Czechoslovakia and sport – the era of incredible success – Not only history lovers but also students and athletes quite often remember what it was like a long time ago, during the time of Czechoslovakia. A few years have passed since 1993 when we officially split into two countries – Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Still, the world records and successes we achieved as one country have not faded away in those years. Czechoslovakia and sport were in the past two words, going hand in hand while reaching incredible success. Join us on a historical excursion into the past and read more on the names that are well known worldwide as well.
This week we introduced a new Czecho Slovakia Challenge with a beautiful medal from both countries, so let’s enjoy the small excursion into sports history. Although Czechoslovakia presented itself as a country achieving constant success in sport, after the division of the republic, Slovakia is currently more successful. The results of the Best Athlete in Czechoslovakia were announced to the public 35 times when being one country. The representative of Slovakia won only 7 times, while the Czech won up to 28 times. Ondrej Nepela became the first one who broke the Czech hegemony in 1971. The phenomenal cyclist Anton Tkáč and the Jozef Pribylinec (walking long distances) won this special event twice. The relationship between Czechoslovakia and sport is also reflected in the number of medals won. Out of the total number of 168 Olympic medals, only 36 belong to Slovakia, which is even less than one quarter.
Does the name Jiří Stanislav Guth-Jarkovský sounds familiar? If not, we can tell that he was the first representative of the Czech Republic and Slovakia region at the Olympic Games in 1896. However, he did not participate actively, but only as an official.
The first gold medal for Czechoslovakia happened in 1924
A gentleman named Bedřich Šupčík deserved the credit for this success. It was a gymnastic discipline – climbing an 8m rope without using feet and legs (hand-by-hand only). He won the dramatic battle by two-hundredths of a second over the Frenchman Albert Séguin. He managed to climb the rope in an incredible 7.2 seconds, which seems like a superhuman ability. Currently, this discipline is not anymore part of the Olympic Games.
The phenomenal Emil Zátopek did not intend to win the marathon at all
The Olympic Games in Helsinki in 1952 showed as an unbeatable opportunity for Czechoslovak sport. The phenomenal Emil Zátopek shone on the stage, who also became the most successful athlete of the Olympic games. According to experts, the triumph was achieved in three disciplines; their combination could not be reached by humans – running 5 km, 10 km and a marathon. Emil even ran the marathon for the first time in his life and he meant to run it as a “safety net” – if he failed to score in the previous two disciplines. Emil’s wife was also a surprise – she added another gold medal for a javelin throw to the family collection in Helsinki. Emil Zátopek set 61 Czechoslovak records in the running track during his career, which no one has managed to break so far. Maybe you could do it by any chance?
Football is a game of champions
The first beginnings of football in the Czech Republic and Slovakia are somewhat covered by mystery. It is not clear when the football matches began officially. The match in Roudnice in 1887 between the members of the Sokol club and the rowing club of the Czech Athletic Club is considered the oldest official football match in Bohemia, now the Czech republic. We waited a few more years in Slovakia to held the first one until 1898 – Professor František Pethe organized the first match in Prešov.
Logically, however, the national team’s matches at prestigious events received the most significant attention of the audience. Together as the Czech Republic and Slovakia, we celebrated our first success in 1920. We defeated the former Yugoslavia at 7: 0 in the first match. The Olympic gold medal pleased our heart in 1980 in Moscow. We played the finals of the World Championships twice – 1934 and 1962, and in 1976 we became the European champion. We reached for bronze in the 1960s and 1980s.
Hockey, ski jumping, water slalom, biathlon … and much more
If we would like to pay tribute to every smart and talented athlete in the era of Czechoslovakia, even a year would probably not be enough. Whether it is hockey players and well-known names such as Pašek, Rusnák, Liba, football player Antonín Panenka, runner Evžen Rošický or ski jumper Jiří Rašla or the winner of the Great Pardubice Race Jiří Váňa, or the phenomenal gymnast Viera Čáslavská, all these names have something in common. They confirm that Czechoslovakia and sport could coexist as synonyms. Many countries have talented athletes, but the resilience of Czechs and Slovaks, perhaps due to historical or political circumstances in the past, is truly admirable. And many of the world’s sports officials have expressed similar views.
We are pleased to be part of a great virtual family of athletes with you – talented athletes. And we appreciate you being with us, which motivates us – like every single athlete – and drives us forward.
See you again in a week with another interesting article. Until then – enjoy the little special moments while practicing sports, dear friends.