Smallest ever Czech team set for Rio Olympics

The Czech team for next month’s Olympics Games has just been approved at a glitzy ceremony in Prague. The team for Rio de Janeiro will be the smallest since the foundation of the independent Czech Republic – but it still has quite a bit of medal potential.

Models present the Czech team’s official outfits, photo: CTKModels present the Czech team’s official outfits, photo: CTK The Czech Republic’s team for August’s Olympic Games was officially rubberstamped by the Czech Olympic Committee in a ceremony at Prague Castle on Tuesday night.

Among the guests was President Miloš Zeman, who will also attend the opening ceremony at the Maracana Stadium in Rio on August 5.

The Czech Republic did not qualify for the 2016 Games in any collective sports, meaning the country’s touring party of 105 is the smallest since the foundation of the independent state.

Martin Doktor – who took two gold medals in rowing at Atlanta in 1996 – is today the sporting director of the Czech Olympic Committee and will head the mission to Rio.

Jan Kuf, Martin Doktor, photo: CTKJan Kuf, Martin Doktor, photo: CTK “Unfortunately the number is down on previous years. On the other hand, we don’t have any players of collective sports in the team, so that makes things harder. Also in ‘small’ individual sports it has become far, far harder to qualify than in the past.”

At the London Olympics the Czech Republic figured 19th in the medals table, with four gold, three silver and three bronze medals.

The champions of 2012, Barbora Špotáková, Miroslava Topinková Knapková, David Svoboda and Jaroslav Kulhavý, will again be in action in Rio.

Other medal hopefuls will include hurdler Zuzana Hejnová, Vítězslav Veselý in the javelin and water slalom world champions Jiří Prskavec and Kateřina Kudějová.

Tennis heavyweights Tomáš Berdych and Petra Kvitová will add some star power – and further medal potential – to the Czech party.

Radek Štěpánek, photo: CTKRadek Štěpánek, photo: CTK The team have not yet voted on who will carry the Czech flag at the opening ceremony. But badminton player Petr Koukal, who chairs the athletes’ committee, says he has one tip for the honour.

“My candidate is Radek Štěpánek. Of course it is possible the others will have a different idea. But in my view Radek deserves it. Not just because he is a great tennis player with amazing results, but also because he motivates others to perform and manages to grab fans’ attention for Czech tennis.”

As always, attention has been devoted to the Czech team’s official outfits for the Olympics. Following the eye-catching Wellington boots chosen for London, this time out the country’s representatives will be togged out in striped wool blazers, white trousers and skirts and straw hats.