Jiří Kotrč

* 1960

  • “In 1982, we played a qualifier in Holland for the Olympics in Los Angeles. We managed the almost impossible to qualify there. We came second; we were determined to fulfil our dream of advancing to the Olympic Games. We succeeded; in 1982 we qualified for the Olympics. Then the Olympics came, it was already strange for us in 1983, when we played a friendly match with Germany. Their team did not compete there and was behind us, so they told us - you go there anyway. That was the first indication of probably my biggest disappointment in my sports life, when we fulfilled our dream goal and progress. And finally we really learned that we would not go to the Olympics; that our friends from the Soviet Union are boycotting the Olympics, and actually President Husák did not allow us go there." "Do you remember how you found out?" “There were some signs. And we found out, I know that for sure. We trained at Slavia from nine to eleven in the morning. As always, we all went together, argued if we go or not. And suddenly there was a commotion in the vestibule in Slavia, there were, I think, fifty or sixty journalists, cameras, clappers, microphones, and they wanted a statement from everyone. But, even before we got there, a certain journalist caught us in the corridor and said to me - Look, I need you to say to the camera that you agree with the boycott, that you are like that, that you support it. Tell me it is right. I say - I will not tell you that in any case, for me it is a disappointment with tears in my eyes. And you want me to say this here when I don't agree with it. He didn't tell me anything, not even to say it was wrong. Rather, they wanted someone to defend the boycott as a good thing. I passed, I didn't talk to anyone. The sport went on, but I think it's still in me today, such an injustice. It's about the fact that you want to achieve or prove something, and those at the top won't allow it, the politics. I think politics does not belong in sports, but it probably does. So this was a huge disappointment.”

  • “Then there was the 1979 qualification for the Olympic Games in Moscow, Spain. We went there and a lot of guys were injured. We went there with the team and were not trusted much. In the end, we finished third and did not advance to Moscow, so unfortunately the first dream of the Olympics did not come true. We were quite disappointed. I remember in Spain, that was really something I had never experienced, what was happening there. They threw eggs at us, we were in Barcelona, and they played basketball there before us. They were cleaning it up, there was a terrible mess, we went to practice, there were plates, glass and cans on the ground. They were cleaning up everything there, we thought to ourselves, if it will be similar to basketball, then it will be fun. It was like that, there were four or five thousand people, I experienced it for the first time in my life. Then I already experienced it, but that was the beginning when we, as young guys, did not experience this. We were so called auf or surprised, blown away by that.”

  • "It is beautiful. That life in the Olympic village together with all the sport sorts. We looked at tennis, shooting, athletics and swimming, we were everywhere. We had one barrack available to the Czechoslovak expedition, where the tennis player Mečiř was; he actually won the Olympic gold. There were the shooters; they also achieved the gold medal, so I did not forget the medallists. We were in contact with everyone; in the village, we met the best athletes in the world, the Americans. I have photos with Sabatini, a tennis player who was in the limelight at the time, with Mečír with a gold medal. I have great memories. Although it was very closely guarded there. I had problems with my knee, I was with the therapist Mojžíšová, who was helping me fix it, and I didn't go to training. Kotrč was missing from training, they said. They counted it, a player is missing, namely Kotrč. And then I had to explain it. We didn't get much out of the village by ourselves, we had to walk together. We spent a fortnight there and had incredibly nice feelings. We also did well in the game; we finished third in the group. Had we not got a last second goal from the Koreans, we would have won the group and played for the medals. Unfortunately, it didn't work out, we ended up seventh. But seventh at the Olympics, it's a beautiful result."

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Say you agree with boycotting the Olympics. He was silent and left in tears

Jiří Kotrč in 1979
Jiří Kotrč in 1979
zdroj: archiv Jiřího Kotrče

Jiří Kotrč was born on June 25, 1960 in Prague. Father Jiří and mother Jindřiška played sports. Their son swam competitively, then played soccer and finally settled on handball. As a pivot, at the age of 18 he got into the best Czechoslovak team named Dukla Praha. He won twelve titles of champion of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, and in 1984 he won the Cup of Champions of European Countries. In the same year, the national team and Jiří Kotrč lost the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, USA. The Soviet Union ordered Czechoslovakia, its vassal country, to boycott the Olympics. Jiří Kotrč played with the Czechoslovakian team at the Summer Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988, where the team finished in sixth place. He competed in six matches and scored 17 goals. He played at the club level in 1978–1990 and 1994–1996 for Dukla Prague. He played in 250 matches for the Czechoslovak national team, becoming the Czechoslovak handball player of the year three times. In 2021, he was married, had a son and a daughter, lived in Prague and worked as a consultant in Dukla.