Leading Czech athletes Barbora Spotakova, Pavel Maslak and Tomas Stanek helped to promote the ‘Back on the Track’ initiative on Tuesday (26) which will formally mark the beginning of the Czech athletics season on Monday 1 June.
The coronavirus pandemic has decimated the international athletics calendar but the Czech Republic is one of the first European nations to be in a position to resume competitions albeit under strict conditions. In total, events will be taking place in 173 stadiums across the Czech Republic to mark the occasion with all age-groups and disciplines included.
Five other meetings in the context of the Back on the Track project have also been confirmed: Ostrava (5 June), Prague, Eden (10 June), Prague, Strahov (12 June), Kolin (17 June) with the series to conclude with a combined events meeting in Pilsen (20-21 June).
The highlight of the 173 events on Monday will be elite-level competition in Kladno, Pilsen and Kolin. The three events have to take place behind closed doors although all three competition will be televised on Czech television, and available to viewers globally courtesy of a non-geo blocked stream. Spotakova is one of the notable athletes to take to the track on Monday when she will go head-to-head with Nikola Ogrodnikova in Kladno.
“My last competition was the World Championships in Doha and I've only been training since then, so I'm looking forward to finally competing. I didn't expect the whole project to reach such dimensions, but that's only good,” said Spotakova at a press conference in Prague’s historic Old Town on Tuesday.
Spotakova added the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games could play to her advantage having only started working with her new coach Jan Tylce during the off-season.
“It's only six months since we started training together. Postponing the Olympics gives us room to try a lot of things. The motivation is still the same, it’s only delayed for a year. This year there will be the climax at the Czech Championships in Pilsen on 8-9 August and then perhaps some international meetings.
“I believe that I will start the season in Kladno with some decent performance. I would like to throw over sixty meters,” she said.
Stanek is also due to compete in the shot put in Kladno and the Czech record-holder harbours aspirations of surpassing the 21 metre-line when he steps into the circle for his season’s debut on Monday.
“The last time I competed was at the Czech Indoor Championships in Ostrava where I registered 21.18m. If I followed up with a similar performance in Kladno, I would be satisfied. It's nice that the spectators will be able to watch us, at least through television screens, if they can’t arrive directly to the stadium,” he said.
One of the star attractions on the track will be the 300m which features Maslak against his national relay teammates Michal Desensky, Patrik Sorm and Jan Tesar. Despite an interrupted build-up due to lockdown, Maslak is looking forward to lacing up his spikes again.
“We took the preparation in a slightly different way. I will run more sprints again and hopefully I will speed up a bit again. For a long time, we could not go to the stadium, we trained mainly in parks and we could not go to the treadmills. I'm really looking forward to comparing my strength with other opponents,” said Maslak.
Commenting on the Back on the Track initiative, Czech Athletic Federation President Libor Varhanik said: “I am very glad that the clubs have taken our challenge and thanks to our common effort we have been able to significantly exceed our originally planned 100 athletics meetings up to 173. I am excited that the Czech athletic family will be together at the start in such large numbers and we will open the competitive season.”
With help from the Czech Athletic Federation