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The Czech Republic’s Most Popular Sports and Athletes

The Czech Republic has a celebrated history with sports that spans over a century, from before the country was an independent nation. Here, world class athletes appear every year, many going on to compete at the highest levels of competition. Let’s take a look at the most popular sports here in the Czech Republic, as well as some of the talented athletes that represent the country.

Basketball

Basketball is one of the most popular sports across many European countries, and the Czech Republic is no exception. Many basketball players here end up in the local leagues, and some abroad in foreign leagues as well.

The Czech Republic even has some representation in the NBA from the Chicago Bulls player, Tomáš Satoranský. Currently a starter in the point guard position, Satoranský is on a $10 million dollar a year contract with the Bulls, and certainly helps pull his weight for the team. His skills when it comes to outside shooting, like 3 pointers and free throws, as well as ball control help the Bulls perform at the highest levels and certainly gives them favorable odds in the NBA betting markets.

Hockey

Hockey is a beloved sport in the Czech Republic, and possibly the most popular sport with football. The history of the game here goes back before the 1900s, and is still going strong. Their national league, the Czech Extraliga, takes place between September and April. It has 14 teams from around the country competing, of which the two teams from the capital city of Prague are considered to be the best. Impressively, the Czech Republic demonstrates their passion for the sport with one hockey rink for every 420 registered players.

Of course, the Czech’s talent in hockey is known worldwide. In the NHL, there have been scores of Czech players over the years. Jaromír Jágr is perhaps the most famous Czech player to ever grace the ice. His extensive career spans over 30 years, beginning in 1990 when he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins and, at the age of 48, he is still playing competitively for Rytíři Kladno in the Czech Extraliga. There have been numerous other star hockey players over the years, like Patrik Eliáš, Milan Hejduk, and Václav Prospal.

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Football

While hockey is certainly intertwined with the history of the Czech Republic, football is also massively popular and commands a large audience. The highest level of football here is the Fortuna Liga, with 16 teams that compete annually for the Czech Cup. Founded in 1993, the league attracts many big sponsors and is watched across the country. The Czech Republic national team is also very talented and well respected in Europe. Though they haven’t yet won the FIFA world cup, they have been runner up in two different years, and they were the UEFA European champions in 1976.

With such a decorated football legacy, it is only natural that the Czech Republic has produced some immensely skilled and ambitious players. One player in particular, the midfielder Pavel Nedvěd, is consistently ranked as one of the best football players of all time. During his career, he would play for several Czech and Italian teams, most notably Juventus from 2001-2009.

In addition, the goalkeeper Petr Čech and midfielder Tomáš Rosický are celebrated for their impressive careers, among many others.

Olympics

It’s not only major league sports that Czech athletes have excelled at. If you look, during every Olympics Games you will see several Czech representatives competing with the best athletes in the world. Since the Czech Republic first competed in 1994 as an independent nation, they have brought home 87 medals, of which 24 are gold.

The national hockey team took home the gold in 1998, demonstrating that the hockey talent here is a force to be reckoned with. Also in the winter sports competition, the Czech Republic has three gold medals in speed skating, two in snowboarding, and several more in other skiing events. The country’s most recent gold medals came in the 2018 winter Olympics, with Ester Ledecká taking one in alpine skiing and another in snowboarding.

Summer sports have brought the country 15 gold medals in all. Athletics is their most successful, with five gold medals awarded to the country between 1996 and 2012. Canoeing is another event the country has seen success in, with four gold medals and 14 in all. The most recent gold medal for the country came in 2016, when Lukáš Krpálek took home gold in judo.

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