Zdeněk Růžička

* 1925  †︎ 2021

  • "What did I do well? I'm glad I didn't particularly disappoint anyone, that I always kept a clear conscience, I'd say. My mother taught me that, saying, 'Just do what you don't have to be ashamed of.' When we went to London that time in 1942, because my mother had died in1938, my father, it was a big issue - I went to the Olympics, so my father told me, 'Mother would be happy for you, but don't disgrace her.' That was our upbringing. ”

  • "Then Sokol was closed and dissolved. And with my friend Dalibor Veverka, we said to ourselves that we wouldn´t leave it at that. We set up a gym in our brick factory old engine room. It took a lot of work, because we had to push out all the foundations under the machines with a jack. And that was it - the rings were at the appropriate height, we had parallel bars there. We had a trapeze outside. We bought a pommel horse, we had it at home, in the house, and we carried it into the kitchen. We practiced like this and with our coach Miloš Chytil we persisted until the liberation. "

  • "I went to Sokol in Ivančice to do physical exercise, when I was just four years old, my brother was four years older and he was already walking me there, holding my hand. However, I was admitted. Of course, the trainer was my uncle Hynek Růžička, he had two sons, one was executed during the war in 1942. His second son Jaromír was in Auschwitz and Buchenwald for four years. He was a teacher and the headmaster, and when the high school class went to ski training, they took him with them to the Giant Mountains, as a reward. Because they appreciated him highly. And he, so that the pupils would not get lost in the Giant's Mine (a steep slope, trans.), he stood there so that no one would go down, and the poor man himself fell there and died. That was in 1976. " [Cousin Jaromír´s name was probably Jaroslav Růžička - ed.]

  • Celé nahrávky
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    Brno, 30.06.2020

    délka: 01:39:08
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Tipsport for Legends
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The Germans dissolved Sokol, so he practiced at a brick factory. Few years later he became a hero of the Olympics

Rings exercise
Rings exercise
zdroj: Zdeněk Růžička´s archive

Zdeněk Růžička was born on April 15, 1925 in Ivančice near Brno. He came from a family of entrepreneurs and attended Sokol from the age of four. In 1935, the family moved to Tetčice, and three years later the witness‘s mother died tragically. His brother, also a promising gymnast, who was four years older, was assigned to forced labour in Nazi Germany in 1942. One cousin was executed by the Nazis, the other suffered for four years in concentration camps. During the war, Zdeněk finished his studies at commercial school, then worked in arms production in a factory in South Moravia. After the war, he made it to the gymnastics national team. His brother returned from Germany in good health and married Věra Schuláková, a gymnast, who became an Olympic winner in London in 1948. At the same Olympic Games Zdeněk Růžička won bronze medals in parallel bars and floor exercise competitions. He also took part in the Olympics in Helsinki in 1952 and in Melbourne in 1956. Returning home from Australia with a Czechoslovak team took a whole month by boat and train via Vladivostok and Moscow. In 1957, the communist regime punished him for forbidden contacts with emigrants in Melbourne and prevented him from traveling to France with the national team. Zdeněk then finished all activities with the national team and became a successful coach. He also coached his son, who, however, was seriously injured in preparation for the 1972 Olympics in Munich and remained confined to a wheelchair. In 1981, State Security forced Zdeněk Růžička‘s daughter to move out to Switzerland because her husband had signed Charter 77. After 1989, the witness participated in the restoration of Sokol and held the post of Sokol mayor in Sokol Brno I for three election periods. He lived in Tetčice. Zdeněk Růžička died in April 2021.