Exactly 50 years ago today, the Czechoslovak national ice hockey team beat the Soviets in the world championships for a second time, setting off a series of celebrations – which soon turned into protests, at times violent, against the ongoing Warsaw Pact occupation. Though a moral victory, in a sense it proved a Pyrrhic one.
Thursday is the 50th anniversary of perhaps the most famous protest in the history of Czech sport, when gymnast Věra Čáslavská looked away while the Soviet anthem was played at the 1968 Olympics. The brave gesture came two months after the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia – and cost the country’s greatest Olympian dear.
Director David Ondříček will begin shooting a film about the life of
Czechoslovak long-distance runner Emil Zátopek, who won three gold medals
at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, in April 2019. With a draft budget
of over 92 million crowns, the biopic will be among the most expensive
Czech films ever made. Much of it will be shot in Helsinki, adding to
This Monday marks 70 years since Zátopek, nicknamed the "Czech Locomotive", won his first Olympic gold medal, in the 10-kilometre race at the London Games. He was the first runner to break the 29-minute barrier in the 10,000-metre race. Zátopek is the only athlete in history to win gold in the 5,000-metre, 10,000-metre, and marathon in the same Olympics.
Richard Askwith is a well-known writer and journalist, but perhaps more than anything else he is a runner. In his native Britain he won a cult following with his book Feet in the Clouds, which maps his obsession with the strange and exhilarating sport of fell-running. His hobby left him well placed for writing a biography of the greatest of all Czech runners, Emil Zátopek, legendary for his will-power and endurance. Richard Askwith was in Prague recently to launch the Czech translation of the book, Today We Die a Little: Emil Zátopek, Olympic Legend
Football Club is a new Czech-language quarterly that delivers long-form articles on various aspects of domestic and international soccer culture and history. Inspired by similar titles around Europe such as the UK’s The Blizzard, it was created by Karel Häring, a well-known football writer, and Czech Radio journalist Jan Kaliba. In his introduction to the first edition of Football Club, Häring recalls that when he was at the newspaper Sport the target readers were “factory workers rather than university graduates”. So, I asked him, is the new journal
Visitors to Prague’s main Olšanské cemetery were treated to a somewhat strange sight last Saturday as Glasgow Celtic and Prague Slavia football fans congregated at one specific grave to the tune of a mournful bagpipe. They were paying homage to a Scotsman, Johnny Madden, a legend for both clubs who coached Slavia Prague for 25 years from just after the start of the 20th century to its third decade and took them to the top in Czech and European football.
Pavel Nedvěd, former Czech national football team captain and the best footballer of his generation, has appeared on a special set of coins, celebrating Czech football legends. Issued by the Czech Mint in Jablonec nad Nisou, the series already features 10 legendary Czech and Czechoslovak footballers, including Antonín Panenka and Josef Masopust. Part of the proceeds from their sale is used to support retired football internationals.
The Czech Ice Hockey Association paid tribute to former hockey forward and national squad coach, Josef Augusta who died on Thursday at the age of 70. The coach, who managed the squad during the so-called Golden era at the World Champions from 1999 to 2001 with the team winning the championship three times in a row, had been suffering from pancreatic cancer. He had been diagnosed in 2015. As a player, Mr Augusta won the silver medal at the Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck.
This Tuesday marks 80 years that the first match was held in the country’s first national hockey league. The teams Sparta Prague and Vítkovice faced off on a natural ice rink in Ostrava-Vítkovice. Forward Vilém Kubečka scoring the very first goal but Sparta came back to tie it. For much of the month, the league, now known as the Extraliga, will be celebrating the anniversary.
Former javelin thrower Dana Zátopková, holder of gold and silver medals from the 1952 and 1960 Olympic Games in Helsinki and Rome, underwent surgery shortly after celebrating her 94th birthday last week. The Olympian, wife of the late Emil Zátopek, also an Olympic champion, reportedly broke her femur near the hip, and was operated on Saturday morning. Mrs Zátopková’s secretary Karel Engel said that the operation had been successful and that she was doing well.
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