One of the Czech Republic’s most successful Olympic teams back home

Zuzana Hejnová, David Svoboda, Jaroslav Kulhavý, Barbora Špotáková, photo: CTK

For the Czech Republic, the London Olympics proved to be the most successful summer games since Atlanta 16 years ago. With four gold, three silver and three bronze medals, the country ranked 19th in the international medal count. Some of the athletes made the trip back home as soon as their events were over but on Monday two special flights brought the rest of the team –including a number of medalists - back home. JP went to meet them at Prague’s Kbely airport.

Jaroslav Kulhavý,  photo: CTK
Reporters flocked around members of the Czech Olympic Team on Monday night, just moments after the second Czech Air Force flight from London landed at the Kbely airport. The tired but happy athletes – including three of the four Czech Olympic winners – arrived shortly before 9 pm. Olympic champion in mountain biking, Jaroslav Kulhavý, said he was really exhausted after his impressive sprint finish win.

“I can’t wait to feel a bit better and rest for a while. After that I hope I will be able to get on my bike for a ride and get some fresh air. Soon, I will be defending my gold medal at the world championship although I don’t think it will be the highlight of the season – that has just happened at the Olympics. The most important thing for me now is to enjoy my medal and relax which is what I am really looking forward to.”

Barbora Špotáková,  photo: CTK
Last week, some 1.5 million Czechs watched the women’s javelin throw in which Barbora Špotáková defended her gold medal from Beijing.When she arrived in Prague, the 31-year-old two-time Olympic winner said she would not have much time to enjoy a well-earned rest.

“There is a Diamond League event in Lausanne on August 24, and in Birmingham on the 26th, and then the finals on September 7, in Brussels. I would be silly if I just let it go being in such great form. As an Olympic champion I just don’t want to put my feet up and do nothing.”

While Barbora Špotáková was certainly one of the hottest Czech candidates for Olympic victory, the gold medal in modern pentathlon came as a bit of a surprise although David Svoboda came close to winning at the Beijing games, too. David Svoboda says he is planning to take off a bit longer than usual.

Zuzana Hejnová,  David Svoboda,  Jaroslav Kulhavý,  Barbora Špotáková,  photo: CTK
“I will start training again as soon as I miss it. I cannot say how long I will stay away from practice; at least for several months, for sure. The new season usually starts around February or March. However, I’m not planning to start competing earlier than May or June. We’ll see whether I manage to take part in all of the main events next year such as the European and world championships, and the World Cup final. I still don’t know.”

The Czech team on Tuesday also received words of high praise from Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas who described their performance at the London Olympics as one of the biggest sporting successes in the country’s history.