Friday, June 3, 2011

Věra Čáslavská

I've always been a big fan of gymnastics. One of the best gymnasts ever is Czech.

Věra Čáslavská competed for Czechoslovakia during the 1950s and 1960s. She won a total of 35 medals (22 of them gold) at the Olympics, World and European championships.

For over 40 years, she has had the distinction of holding more individual Olympic event titles than any other gymnast in history. Čáslavská is also the only gymnast in history who has won the Olympic gold medal on every individual event - all-around, vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. No small feat...especially with that big, blonde beehive hairdo.

In June 1968 she signed a document called "Two Thousand Words" which called for rapid progress towards democracy in Czechoslovakia. In August, the Soviets and other Warsaw Pact countries invaded to end the Prague Spring. In order to avoid arrest for her political stance, she hid out in Šumperk (about an hour from Brno). She was only granted permission to rejoin the Olympic team a few weeks before the Mexico City games opened.

video

She was a heroine for standing up to the Soviets at the Olympics. The communists, however, were not that pleased with her. Upon her return to Czechoslovakia she was no longer allowed to travel abroad. She was also forbidden to participate in any public sporting events which forced her to retire and she was considered a persona non grata for years.

In the late 1980s, the International Olympic Committee presented her with the Olympic Order. This forced the government into finally allowing her to work as a gymnastics coach and to judge competitions in Czechoslovakia. Other honors followed. In 1995 she was presented with the Czech Republic's Medal of Merit. In 1991 she was inducted into the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame and in 1998 she was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

Update:  Věra Čáslavská passed away on 30.8.2016.

2 comments:

  1. I didn't know any of this, thanks for sharing a great story about this female athlete's bravery and accomplishments.

    ReplyDelete
  2. thank you for the information.It has really helped me with my homework.

    ReplyDelete