The Czech Republic, also known as Czechia, is a land locked country in central Europe. The population of 10.51 million (2021) is bordered by Austria to the south, Germany to the west, Poland to the northeast, and Slovakia to the southeast. The Czech Republic is rich in history and natural beauty. The country is also home to many amazing national parks, dazzling small towns, and old-fashioned castles. Meanwhile, it also has a rich history of judo legends.
From birth to 1970s
The Czech Judo Federation was established in 1936 and has a longstanding history in our sport. To date, the Czech judo team have collected a total of 45 senior European Championships medals. The very first time the national anthem played at such a prestigious event was in Brussels 1954, where Zdeněk PÍSAŘÍK marked the historical occasion. 1978 was the year to celebrate their first ever junior European title by Karel PURKERT.
1980 started off with the biggest celebration of all as Vladimír KOCMAN became the first ever Olympic medallist at the Moscow 1980 summer games. He precisely won bronze in the -95kg category. 1981 fast brought a joint effort to a double historical senior world medals by Pavel PETRIKOV Sr. who won silver and Vladimír KOCMAN who claimed bronze. The latter doubled his personal world medals by 1983, this time adding a silver. In 1988 the collection of European titles continued to grow, one from the senior division by Jiří SOSNA, and one from the junior group by Andrea PAŽOUTOVÁ.
The 90s started rather quietly, however, two additional senior world medals were still conveyed. In 1991 Jiří SOSNA thrived with bronze whilst 8 years later, Michaela VERNEROVÁ also won bronze, respectively, in the women’s -57kg category. To date, Vernerová is the only senior female world judo medallist for the Czech Republic.
Adam KOPECKÝ claims the only cadet European titles for the Czech judo family, up to date.
The podium of the -73kg category at the 2019 Cadet Europeans in Warsaw, Poland. The gold goes to… Adam KOPECKÝ.
Adam KOPECKÝ also the owner of the only cadet world title in history of Czech judo. He marked this step in 2019.
Renata ZACHOVÁ is the fourth Czech judoka to win a junior European title. She claimed victory in 2020.
The 21st century
2005 manifested the first ever Veteran European medal by Pavla PRÖLLOVÁ. Two years later, the first veteran world title came home. All in all, since the start of the new century, a total of 35 veteran European medals were collected in addition to the summary of 22 veteran world medals. Since 2001, the medal tally also grown across the younger group. 2019 allowed yet for another chronological celebration as the first ever cadet European and World title was collected for the country by Adam KOPECKÝ and holds these memorable titles on his own in this age group. In 2020, the fourth and for now the final, junior European title was declared by Renata ZACHOVÁ.
Lukas Krpálek won his first ever senior European title in 2013 in Budapest, Hungary.
Lukas Krpálek on his way to earning a historical World title in 2014. Photo: IJF
The ultimate glory of becoming Olympic Champion. Photo: Gabi Juan
The first Olympic gold for Lukas Krpálek and the second Olympic medal for the Czech Judo Federation. Photo: Gabi Juan
Lukas Krpálek doubled his Olympic glories in 2021 at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Photo: Gabi Juan
The first time we saw the 32 year-old judoka on a prestigious podium was in 2008 when he collected, at the time, the third junior European title for the country whilst also banking the first ever junior world title within the same year. The latter fast doubled when winning in Paris at the junior worlds in 2009. Till now, there are a total of two junior world titles engraved to the history of Czech judo federation, both won by Krpálek. Two years later, in 2011, Krpálek began, which can only be described so far, an unstoppable journey across the senior stage. He returned to Paris for a world bronze medal amongst the elite. He then repeated the same success in Rio de Janeiro in 2013. Within the same year, he bagged his first senior European title in Budapest, Hungary. Once again, the European victory doubled in 2014 in Montpellier. The 2023 European championships will take place precisely at the same location so there is a chance for the Czech judo ace to re-write memories later this year. Additionally, this years Europeans can potentially give him the opportunity to earn a fifth senior continental gold in history for his home nation.
2014 continued to be unique as Krpálek won the first ever senior world title when he aced the -100kg category in Chelyabinsk. 2015 carried an exclusive European Games title. The second Olympic medal came about for Czechia 36 years later. It was in Rio de Janeiro, one of Krpálek’s lucky locations, where his Olympic title was announced during the 2016 Olympic Games. This victory was still claimed in the -100kg category. Following a successful establishment in this weight division, Krpálek decided to try his chances amongst the heavy weights. He did not only try but once again conveyed, winning another world title in 2019 whilst also doubling on Olympic glory during the latest summer games at Tokyo 2021. Today, he is once again testing himself in the -100kg category.
Meet Igráček, the Czech Republic’s popular judo toy mascot.
Igráček is wearing a precious back number.
Today, the Czech Judo Federation commends a total of 3 Olympic gold medals, a sum of 35 world medals across all age groups, five of which remain golden history. As per the continental tally, an overall 85 medals earned, nine of those golden memories. There are almost 20,000 registered judoka practicing across 240 clubs. The largest club (Judo Academy) in the Czech Republic has about 3500 judokas. The country even has their popular judo toy mascot, named Igráček.
The Czech Judo Federation remains a long-term organizer of European Cups, Opens and European Championships. The next edition of such will take place throughout the upcoming weekend in form of the Cadet European Cup held in Teplice.
Off the mat… Did you know?
- There are over 2000 castles in the Czech Republic, which is more than in any other country in Europe.
- The Czech Republic ranks as the seventh safest country to live in the world.
- The capital city of Prague is home to the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world.
- Prague’s nickname is “the city of a hundred spires”.
- Scientist, teacher, and Augustinian prelate Johan Gregor Mendel was born in the Czech Republic. He is also known as the father of modern genetics.
Author: Szandra Szogedi