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Praguers welcome successful Olympic medallists

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Prague, Feb 26 (CTK) – The Czech double Olympic gold medallist Ester Ledecka and silver medal winner Martina Sablikova, who returned to Prague from Pyeongchang on Monday, arrived at the Old Town Square in late afternoon to greet hundreds of fans who had been waiting for them in a strong frost for about two hours.

“I am very glad to be here with you today, with the medal around my neck,” Sablikova, who won silver in women’s 5000 m speed skating race, said.

Ledecka, who won the women’s skiing super-G title in addition to her victory in the snowboard parallel giant slalom, becoming the ever most successful Czech contestant at winter Olympics, appeared before the fans at about 17:15.

“My hands are trembling terribly, it will be far from easy. I will have to get accustomed to you a bit,” Ledecka, evidently moved, said.

“This is unbelievable. I thank you very much for having waited here in the frost, for having come here,” she said.

Earlier on Monday, Czech Olympic Committee (COV) chairman Jiri Kejval said he has received lots of congratulations on Ledecka’s triumph, also addressed to her, including from International Olympic Committee (IOC) head Jacques Rogge.

“I do not remember anything similar in the past, compared with how Ester contributed to making the Czech Republic visible,” Kejval told journalists.

He said Rogge had invited him for a meeting to tell him how admirable the Czech contestant’s success was.

“I promptly passed the message on to Ester. Even a man like Mr Rogge has noticed the success and did not hesitate to meet me in this connection. This proves that Ester is the greatest personality of these Olympic games,” Kejval said.

Eva Samkova, the women’s snowboardcross bronze medallist, greeted the crowd of fans through a video.

Other speakers included former Olympic skier Ondrej Bank, who is a member of Ledecka’s team now, Sablikova’s coach Petr Novak, and Katerina Neumannova, Czech cross-country skiing winner at the Turin Olympics in 2006.

Another celebrity present was Milan Hnilicka, former ice-hockey goalie who celebrated the triumph of the Czech team at the Nagano Olympics, of which he was part, at the Old Town Square 20 years ago.

“The Old Town Square has been the traditional place for us to meet our fans. Most recently, Ester achieved something awesome, a brilliant sports event for the whole world and a beautiful story,” said Hnilicka, who is a lawmaker and the government’s commissioner for sports.

He said the fourth place achieved by the Czech ice-hockey team in Pyeongchang is not bad, but still a little bit disappointment, since everybody had hoped for a medal victory.

The programme accompanying the welcome of athletes included information about Czech successes in Olympics games, competitions and music performances.

The Czech Republic won seven medals at the South Korean Olympic games which ended on Sunday. Apart from Ledecka’s double gold and Sablikova’s silver and Samkova’s bronze, another silver was won by biathlete Michal Krcmar, and bronze by speed skater Karolina Erbanova and biathlete Veronika Vitkova.

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