The famous Czech Athlete of the Year Gala was held on Saturday (7) but in a break from tradition, the annual televised ceremony celebrated some of the greatest stars of Czech athletics over the last 50 years.
With the competition season sadly decimated by the coronavirus pandemic, the Czech Athletic Federation decided to do something different and join in with European Athletics’ 50th anniversary celebrations to recall some of the greatest Czech athletes - active and retired - over the past five decades.
All-time greats such as Helena Fibingerova, Jarmila Kratochvilova, Jan Zelezny, Roman Sebrle, Barbora Spotakova, Tomas Dvorak, Zuzana Hejnova, Pavel Maslak and others who broke world records and won major medals over the past half century were present at this year’s Gala which - unlike previous years - was pre-recorded before being broadcast at a prime time slot on Czech television on Saturday.
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The whole programme then closed with a song called “Nikdy to nevzdám” (I will never give up), which was sung together in the lower part of Prague’s famous Wenceslas Square by the assembled greats of Czech athletics.
Barbora Spotakova, who has won the Czech Athlete of the Year accolade on nine occasions, was one of the legends to enjoy the festivities on Saturday night.
'It has been a special Athlete of the Year Gala, but we all had the idea to show to people that life goes on. We were very happy to meet here. When you sing together with Roman Sebrle, Jarmila Kratochvilova and others, it is something you will remember for the rest of your life,” she said.
Two-time world 400m hurdles champion Zuzana Hejnova added: 'It was a strange feeling to stand on the podium and not see anyone in the auditorium, but it was nice that the best athletes of the last half century were awarded.”
Another Czech all-time great to be celebrated at the Gala was the late discus thrower Ludvik Danek, the former world record-holder who won the Olympic discus title in 1972.