Czechs among superpowers in fast growing sport of racketlon

04-06-2007

The fastest growing sport in the world is modern and dynamic, though it is a sport you have probably never heard of. It's called racketlon, and it's had spectacular growth of 300% over the past three years, in terms of the number of official players. Racketlon is the youngest sibling of triathlon and decathlon, and combines four racquet sports played according to the increasing weight of racquets used - they are table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis. The Czech Republic is among the superpowers of racketlon.

Racketlon was first played in Finland and Sweden, and the first official world championship took place in 2001. Together with Martina Kakosova, Radim Sochor is currently the number one player in the world mixed doubles rankings. What's more, he's the person who actually introduced racketlon to the Czech Republic just two years ago.

"I was one of the founders of the Czech Racketlon Association mainly because I had been organizing similar sports tournaments in this country before that. I called this sport 'Rocket Hand'. It consisted of a series of four tournaments played in the disciplines in which racketlon is being played now; they are table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis, but the system of the tournament was different. Another historical variation, which was played here, was racket tetrathlon. These two sports, one of which was my invention, were later combined. We joined the world federation and founded the Czech Racketlon Association."

The greatest charm of racketlon is its greatest pitfall at the same time, and that is the combination of four sports in one. Racketlon can hardly become dull or tiring throughout one's career, but it is extremely demanding for the player's physical adaptability. According to the official rules, there are only five minutes break between the individual sport sets within one match.

"When I was little and my father trained me in table tennis and tennis at the same time, I had great difficulties with table tennis after tennis and with tennis after table tennis, the racket was too much lighter. I had to get used to this. The sequence of the racketlon sports remains always the same, that is one starts with the lightest and finishes with the heaviest racket, so one can adapt to such techniques. It is good for the physical condition and health, when people don't do one and the same sport all the time. When one changes sports, he also activates different muscles."

Despite Sochor's considerable devotion to racketlon and his stunning scores, racketlon surprisingly is not part of his professional life.

"Most of my sport colleagues and myself practice racketlon only for our amusement, the Czech Racketlon Association doesn't organize official training. We basically train on our way home from work, or even in the mornings before we start working, but that's always based on an individual agreement among the players, it's nothing official. That is the huge difference from the world's top players from Finland and Sweden, where the players draw professional wages, and they devote all their time to racketlon."

Racketlon is currently the fastest growing sport in the world. Yet, it still has higher targets. The World Racketlon Federation has been striving for two years for the official recognition of racketlon as an Olympic sport.

"We originally planned it for the 2012 Olympics, but I am not sure whether that is realistic. However, the Olympic Federation is interested, it's only a matter of time. It would definitely contribute to the popularization of racketlon throughout the world."

04-06-2007