Czechs win their first medals at Tokyo Olympics

Lukáš Rohan

The Czech Republic’s first medal at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games was won on Monday by canoeist Lukáš Rohan in the water slalom category. Just hours later, fencer Alexander Choupenitch added another medal, this time bronze, breaking a century long spell on Olympic medals for the Czech fencing team.

The 26-year-old Rohan finished fourth in the semi-final round, which allowed him to advance into the final stage of the water slalom. There he ended up taking the silver medal after completing the slalom in 101.96 seconds, just behind Slovenia’s Benjamin Savšek with a time of just over 98 seconds. Germany’s Sideris Tasiadis came in third, almost two seconds slower than the Czech.

Rohan actually managed to complete the slalom in less than 100 seconds, but a mistake he made while passing the fourth post cost him 2 seconds of added penalty time.

Lukáš Rohan | Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth,  ČTK/AP

Nevertheless, it was with happiness rather than regret that the Czech canoeist spoke to Czech Radio after he found out that he was a silver medallist.

“It was amazing! I am incredibly happy with my performance in the final round. It may well have been the best performance of my life. I did make a slight mistake on post number four, but it made me try harder rather than mess with my head.”

The Mělník-born athlete has now almost equalled his father and coach Jiří Rohan, who won silver in canoeing at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona as well as another silver medal four years later in the double canoe category.

There are signs that the son could surpass his father’s achievements if he holds on to the excellent form he has shown in recent years. A very promising canoeist while still competing in the youth categories, Lukáš Rohan has since gone on to win silver at the adult C1 European Canoe Slalom Championships in Prague last year. He is also an accomplished team canoeist, having won bronze and silver medals in the team category at past European Championships in Prague and Vienna.

Alexander Choupenitch | Photo: Andrew Medichini,  ČTK/AP

Meanwhile, the Czech team’s second Olympic medal was won just a few hours later by fencer Alexander Choupenitch, The son of Belarusian-born opera singers, Choupenitch defeated three opponents as he advanced through the rounds into the semi-finals, but lost to Hong Kong’s Cheung Ka Long 10:15 on points. In the subsequent battle for third place he beat Japan’s Takahiro Shikine 15:8 on points.

With this victory, Choupenitch has broken a 113-year-old spell on the Czech fencing team – finally letting them win an Olympic medal.