Czech speed canoeists clinch another medal in Tokyo

Radek Šlouf and Josef Dostál

Czech speed canoeists Josef Dostál and Radek Šlouf won bronze in the 1,000 metre double kayak race at the Olympic Games, bringing the Czech team’s medal tally up to nine. While for Radek Šlouf this was his Olympic debut, Josef Dostál stood on the Olympic podium for the fourth time already.

The Czech double kayak pair of Josef Dostál and Radek Šlouf – who competed together for the first time ever at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, advanced to the final from fourth place in the semi-finals and held sixth place in the opening heat for the medals. They moved up to fourth place by the halfway point and battled with two other crews for silver and bronze.

Radek Šlouf,  Josef Dostál | Photo: Ondřej Deml,  ČTK

In the end, the Australian pair of Jean van der Westhuyzen and Thomas Green came first with a one-second lead, followed by Germany’s Max Hoff and Jacob Schopf. This is how Radek Šlouf described the final moments of the race to Czech Radio:

“We didn’t know that we were third until a fraction of a second after we crossed the finish line. I knew it could have happened, but we were both catching our breath, and we didn’t start to rejoice until we got to the pier and the coach confirmed the result.”

For 26-year-old Radek Šlouf, it is the first Olympic medal from his first ever Olympic participation. And as he told Czech Radio reporters, he is absolutely thrilled:

“We knew that if we gave it everything we had and if everything went according to plan, we could think about a medal. We gave an almost perfect performance, and we cooperated really well.”

For his colleague Josef Dostál, who is two years his senior, it was first of all a satisfaction for his earlier performance in the individual 1,000 metre event, where he finished fifth and collapsed at the finish line. He described Thursday’s doubles race as something of a resurrection:

Photo: Ondřej Deml,  ČTK

“I’d had plenty of rest. I went to bed yesterday afternoon and didn’t move from it until this morning. I knew today was going to be a good day and that I had replenished my strength. Of course, I had a lot to do at the finish line, but it was better.”

It is a fourth Olympic medal for Dostál, who previously won the bronze at the 2012 London Summer Olympics in the 1,000 metre event and the silver medal in the same discipline at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He was also part of the Czech team that won the bronze medal in the same event.

With a total of nine medals, four of them gold, the Czech Olympic Team is currently in the 17th spot in the international medals ranking. But the overall total could well rise, with the Czech climbing star Adam Ondra currently competing in the sport climbing finals.