The rafting future of the Czech Republic – U19 team at the 2013 World Champs

The Czech Republic will be present at the WRC 2013 in NZ and represented in the age group – U19 men. With this young team still building their careers, it will be interesting to follow their development over the coming years. Therefore, we will start now to get to know them a little better.

Coming first in the Czech Republic, which has tremendous competition amongst the teams, is a success in itself. They fought for it and now they have the honour to defend the colours of their country at the WRC 13, in the U19 category, and they are: Michal Cerny (cpt), Jiri Havlicek, Vojtech Vondracek, Robin Fucik, Petr Zak, and Jan Prokop. Milan Stepanek serves as coach and team manager. Other experienced club members assist and help him with the coaching.

The hometown of the team is Havlickuv Brod in the Vysocina Region in a central part of the Czech Republic, Europe. They are members of a local sport club called “Jiskra” (Spark). Some of the team have been paddling together from their early childhood (which is kind of normal for Czechs), others joined them later. They have taken part in raft racing since 2007. Besides rafting the guys do canoe or kayak. Also they do running, cycling and playing football. Some times they spend time in the gym. All the boys are students.

Czech U19So far what are the teams’ major achievements?

2009 – champions of the Czech Republic in the slalom and sprint R4 (U16) 2011, 2012 – medal winners of the Czech Junior Championships R4, R6

2013 – champions of the Czech Republic in the downriver, slalom, sprint and overall; winners of the Czech National Cup R4 (U19) silver medal in the slalom; 3rd place in the downriver, sprint – and overall R6 (U23 ). R6 nomination winners (U19 )

They have been competing over the past few years on the local scene and this will be their first major competition.

Milan Stepanek, their coach, answers some more questions.

How does your team prepare for the competition, and on which rivers?

“We exercise mainly on the flat water of the Sazava River. All the necessary skills the team needs for white water are gained during various raft races and also by occasional training at the slalom course of the Trnávka lake.” – And Trnavka is a great place for training. Great to have that opportunity.

Which discipline does your team like the most?

“Our team really enjoys slalom because it is the greatest fun. We look forward to the World Championship contests, and we hope the slalom race will be fairly technical, not just requiring power and speed.”

Are you familiar with the other competition? What are your expectations at this event?

“We don’t know the quality of the rival teams, plus we need to overcome the time difference, and so that is why we will arrive with no expectations related to the results. Winning any kind of a medal would be a success for our team. All in all, we do expect good races with good friends!!” I hope that the teams will overcome the time difference quickly and adapt before the event. It is certainly a challenge for many of the teams who are going there.

Have any of you been to NZ before? Will you be able to visit longer in the country?

All of us will be visiting New Zealand for the first time. We know, however, New Zealand is a very nice country. Therefore we would like to rent a car when all the competitions are over in order to visit some natural sights and attractions of North Island.”

Organizers have devised that each team is adopted by a group of school children. When teams are so far away from home, will this have some meaning to you? (U19 Czech team has been adopted by Te Whata tau o Putauaki. )

“It is a good idea. We are pleased that we will have some fans on the other side of the earth. We thank the Te Whata tau o Putauaki school for future support. “

Who are your sponsors?

“Last but not least – we would like to express our thanks to the sponsors: the Boaters Union of the Czech Republic, the Vysocina Region, the municipality of Havlickuv Brod, and others.”

Czech Republic is on top of the world scene in the sport of rowing,  and so too in rafting. They are known for their successes and this will probably not change as the generations change. These guys have the best to learn from, and no doubt will continue the successes of the older generation. If you look at their WRC 2013 presentation video you will realize that these guys are very serious. We wish them a good time and for them to enjoy their first big trip and competition. Welcome to the World Rafting stage.

Article by Nada