Tokyo Olympics: Czech athletes reach best result in country’s history

Closing ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

With 11 medals in total, four of them gold and four silver, the Czech Olympic Team has achieved the best result in the history of the independent Czech Republic. The country finished in the 18th spot in the international medals ranking at the Tokyo Olympics, just behind Poland.

The Olympic Games did not begin well for the Czechs, after a group of athletes, including cyclist Michal Schlegel, volleyball players Ondřej Perušič and Markéta Nausch Sluková, and table tennis player Pavel Širuček, tested positive for Covid-19 upon arriving in Japan and therefore were unable to compete.

Czech Olympic Committee head Jiří Kejval said they will do everything they can to make sure such thing doesn’t happen again at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing:

“We need to find out at all costs where the system failed and how a sick person got on board the plane. We need to know, especially because in six months’ time there will be the Winter Olympics, which will take place under similar conditions, and nothing like that can happen to us there.”

Jiří Prskavec | Photo: Ondřej Deml,  ČTK

Mr Kejval has also praised the Czech team, saying they did proud the legendary Věra Čáslavská, who won three gold medals at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

On the fourth day of the Olympics, canoeist Lukáš Rohan won the first medal for the Czech Republic, in the water slalom category. Soon after, fencer Alexander Choupenitch added the bronze, the first Olympic medal for the national fencing team since 1908.

Shooter Jiří Lipták won the country’s first gold in the trap event, sharing the podium with his colleague and friend David Kostelecký, who took home the silver.

Canoeist Jiří Prskavec, one of the biggest hopes of the Czech Olympic team, earned the second gold medal after winning the men’s canoe slalom event.

Just a few hours later, his friend and teammate Lukáš Krpálek added another in the heavyweight judo category, his second Olympic gold.

Lukáš Krpálek | Photo: Libor Plíhal,  ČTK

Speaking to Czech Radio upon his arrival, Jiří Prskavec said that despite the Covid-19 restrictions and absence of viewers, the Tokyo Olympics have been a dream come true for him:

“I think sport is supposed to inspire. If you look at the articles published in the Czech media over the past two years, there has been nothing but Covid.

“During the Olympics, it turned around. I believe that people were proud of what we did there and that we succeeded in fulfilling our dreams. That’s exactly the idea behind this: the fact that society came together and was not divided.”

Barbora Krejčíková | Photo: Igor Zehl,  ČTK

The fourth and final gold medal for the Czech Olympic Team was added by Barbora Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková, in the women’s doubles finals, while Markéta Vondroušová clinched the silver in the women’s singles.

Other silver medallists include canoeist Lukáš Rohan. His colleagues Josef Dostál and Radek Šlouf picked up the bronze in the men's kayak double event.

The final set of medals was added on Saturday by Czech javelin throwers Jakub Vadlejch and Vítězslav Veselý, who finished second and third, respectively, both achieving their best results of the season.

Apart from the medal-winners, a number of Czech athletes fell finished just below the podium, including swimmer Barbora Seemanová and star climber Adam Ondra.

Jakub Vadlejch | Photo: Matthias Schrader,  ČTK/AP