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Czechia’s Olympic History

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The Czech Republic first competed at an Olympic Games as an independent nation in 1994, but prior to that the country has been represented as Czechoslovakia or Bohemia since the 1900 Paris Olympics.

This year athletes from all over the country will be jetting out to Japan to represent Czechia in the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Whilst the country may not feature too highly in the betting odds for total medal haul, there are some great odds on individuals to bring back Gold medals to Prague.

To get you in the mood for the upcoming Olympic Games, and perhaps to distract you from the nerve-jangling Euro 2020 quarter-final against Denmark, we have compiled some of the greatest moments in Czech Olympic history.

Read on to find out how the country’s Olympic Odyssey started in 1900 and how it has progressed in the 121 years since that first appearance. If you have any great personal memories of cheering on Czech athletes at the Olympic Games, let us know in the comments section below.

The 1900 Debut

The inaugural modern day Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896 and featured just 14 nations, 12 of which were European. As was par for the course for sporting tournaments held during this time period, inclusion for the Games was based more on politics and militaristic power than sporting prowess.

Athletes from Czechia had to wait until the 1900 Paris Games before they could represent their country on the world scale. A total of 7 athletes were sent from Bohemia, returning with 2 medals, 1 silver and 1 bronze.

František Janda-Suk came second in the Men’s Discus Throw and Hedwiga Rosenbaumová finished thirds in the Women’s Singles tennis. Bohemia as it was then known would miss out on the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis before competing in 1908 in London and 1912 in Stockholm.

Only 2 more medals were added in this time, all of which were bronze medals won by the Fencing team at the London Olympic Games.

(The 1900 Olympic Games in Paris were memorable for Bohemia’s debut but also for some truly bizarre moments.)

The Czechoslovakian Era

From 1920 until 1992, the country competed at the Olympic Games as Czechoslovakia, featuring at every Winter and Summer Olympic Games apart from the 1984 Games when the country was part of the Soviet-led boycott of the tournament.

The Czech people had to wait until 1924 before they could celebrate an athlete winning a gold medal, when Bedřich Šupčík took home the Gold for the men’s rope climbing at the Paris 1924 Olympic Games.

In terms of Gold medals, the 1952 Helsinki Games and the 1968 Mexico City Games were the most successful in Czechoslovakian history. At both tournaments the country’s athletes came home with a total of 13 medals, 7 of which were Gold.

The Modern Czech Republic Era

The first time that the Czech Republic appeared as an independent country in its own right in an Olympic Games was at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Athletes representing the country did the nation proud, finishing 17th in the medal table with a haul of 4 Golds, 3 Silvers and 4 Bronzes. Ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Games, that remains the Czech Republic’s best showing at an Olympic Games in modern history.

At the 2012 London Games they did match their exact medal haul, but finished 2 places down the ranking in 19th. The 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro were a tournament to forget for Czech sports fans as the country finished 43rd in the rankings after an altogether poor showing.

In the modern era the Winter Games have been a source of success for the country, with 9 Golds being won in total across 7 tournaments – a major improvement on the Czechoslovakian record.

The last Gold medal won at a Winter Games was won by Ester Ledecká who added to her Gold in Alpine Skiing with a Gold in Snowboarding at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

In Summer Olympics, Lukás Krpálek who won the Mens 100kg Judo was the last Czech athlete to win Gold.

(Highlights from Lukás Krpálek’s memorable Gold medal performance at the last Olympic Games.)

Czechia’s 2020 Tokyo Hopes

Whilst the last Olympic Games in Brazil was a disappointment for the Czech public, there are high hopes that Tokyo 2020 could be much better.

One of the nation’s biggest hopes for a Gold medal is the 39-year-old Javelin thrower Barbora Špotáková. In 4 Olympic Games Špotáková has won 3 medals for the country, winning Gold in 2008 and 2012 before claiming a Bronze medal at the 2016 Games.

Jakub Jurka who is competing in the Men’s epee fencing will be hoping to emulate the performances of his countrymen who scooped Bronze medals over a century ago for Bohemia at the London Games.

Lukás Krpálek, the current Gold medal holder in 100kg Judo also looks in good shape to at least secure a podium finish in his discipline. Aside from that, there are plenty of other Czech athletes with a good chance of upsetting the odds and securing themselves a medal.

Hopefully the country’s athletes will head into Tokyo 2020 inspired by the exploits of the men’s football team…

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