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Miroslav Jansta: Medals without state support

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lt=”" width=”199″ height=”300″ />Miroslav Jansta, Chairman of the Czech Sports Association, is both a guest and an attentive spectator at the London Olympics. At the Czech House he is unable to hide his background in basketball – before he shared his impressions with us he went to shoot a few baskets.

In London I have been to watch the tennis, basketball and athletics. The performances of Czech sportsmen and women I tend to view from the perspective of an ordinary sports supporter, and so far I am somewhat critical of the results achieved.

Do you not think that participation alone at the Olympics deserves recognition?

Yes, but the problem is that in the past Czech athletes at the Olympics competed for medals in almost all disciplines, whilst in London the range of events in which we are competing has shrunk significantly.

Nevertheless, the Czech Republic has up till Tuesday evening won five medals, which is not bad. Other candidates for a podium finish are still in action…

We have mainly seen success in the water sports – rowing and canoe slalom. For this credit is due to chairmen Kejval and Pollert, who have proved able to create good conditions for success in these sports. We still have medal hopes in athletics, mainly down to the Javelin coaching school of Jan Železný. The Czech team sports are only really saved by the basketball – the others have already returned from previously successful sports. It shows that the results are a matter of individual application, rather than the system. This has long crumbled away.

Sports performances are often seen as an expression of state support. How do you view this from the perspective of the Czech Republic?

In the Czech Republic the issue of sports funding is very much a marginal one for the state and politicians. This is reflected in insufficient access to funding. On the other hand, at an international sports meeting like the Olympics it can clearly be seen how much other countries fund sport. Over the past ten to fifteen years countries we never used to hear of have taken giant strides forward. We have to admit that in sport the Czech Republic is currently declining.

How can this situation be resolved?

I hope that the unflattering results from London will cause the chairmen of the sports associations to come together and say to the state that if they want better sports representation they must invest into the young. If we implement necessary measures now, then in eight years time it should be reflected in better results.

You are a regular visitor to the Czech House, what do you think of it?

I consider the Czech House in London to be a very bold, but excellent idea. It is positive that we have people who are such great organisers and able to carry through an ambitious project on this scale. The Czech House, with its double-decker, has ensured the best possible promotion of our country. The money invested will certainly be returned many times over.