Sports News

Lukáš Krpálek, photo: CTK

The Czech Republic had an unspectacular Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, finishing 43rd in the international medals ranking compared to 19th in London four years ago. Nevertheless, the Czech team took home 10 medals and gave fans lots of great moments to remember.

Lukáš Krpálek,  photo: CTK
The Czech Republic didn’t qualify for any collective sports at the Rio Olympics, making the country’s team the smallest ever.

But that didn’t dent the Czechs’ ambitions. Prior to the Games, Czech Olympic Committee chief Jiří Kejval said that he hoped they would bring back the same number of medals as in London: 11, once the recent awarding of bronze for 2012 to javelin thrower Vítězslav Veselý was taken into account.

In the end the Czechs fell just short of that number, with 10. The big difference was in the metals concerned.

While they had picked up four gold medals in London, in Rio there was only the one: for Lukáš Krpálek in judo’s under 100 kg category.

Many Czechs fans at home did not understand the rules of judo and were only alerted to his victory when Krpálek began jumping for joy.

Jaroslav Kulhavý,  photo: CTK
But that didn’t deter from the celebration of his triumph and the man who carried the Czech flag at the opening ceremony will surely continue to be the face of Rio for the nation.

The Czechs took two silver medals in the latter half of the greatest sports show on earth: for canoeist Josef Dostál in the kayak single category, and for Jaroslav Kulhavý – a winner in London – in cross country mountain biking.

But it was bronze that predominated among the Czech medal winners: seven in total. Among those to reach the lowest level of the podium was Barbora Špotáková, who failed to repeat her gold medal success in the women’s javelin from the last two Games.

The country’s tennis players achieved a perhaps unlikely triple-whammy of bronze, for Petra Kvitová in the women’s singles; Lucie Hradecká and Radek Štěpánek in the mixed doubles, and Lucie Šafářová and Barbora Strýcová in the women’s doubles.

Along the way the latter pair delivered one of the upsets in their sport, knocking out the Williams sisters. Incredibly the Americans had never previously lost an Olympics match.

Barbora Špotáková,  photo: CTK
The Czech Olympic Committee’s Jiří Kejval singled out the tennis players for praise, saying that despite the fact they were far higher earners than the other athletes they contributed hugely to team spirit.

Mr. Kejval also revealed that conditions in Rio had been far from perfect, especially at first, but that he and team manager Martin Doktor had kept quiet on that so as not to undermine morale.