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1965 1967 Books Czechoslovakia European Championships

Čáslavská’s Remembers the 1967 Euros in “The Road to Olympus”

After Čáslavská’s disappointment in her performance in Dortmund, she debated if she should take a break from competing. Perhaps she had become too familiar to the judges, one coach suggested. (At one point in this section, Čáslavská recalls how the overly familiar Latynina was ignored during a press conference with Larisa Petrik in 1965.)

To make gymnastics exciting again, she and her coach Matlochová reworked all her routines, adding new elements to every routine. They made practice fun, with Matlochová riding a broom and trying to distract Čáslavská during her beam routines. They set her routines and training cues to music.

Čáslavská went on to compete at the 1967 European Championships. But Čáslavská had her doubts at the beginning of the competition. After a rough bar routine during the first rotation and an exceptional performance by Kuchinskaya on beam, Čáslavská was unsure if she would be able to defend her title. But right before beam, one of her superstitions happened. Someone broke a glass, and she had her lucky shards of glass. 

In the end, she became the only gymnast in the history of the European Championships to sweep all five events twice. She even scored two perfect 10.0s during the event finals.

Another interesting tidbit: For someone who ended up on top of the podium many times, Čáslavská disliked being on top of the podium. It made her feel awkward. 

So, with no further ado, here’s how Čáslavská recalls the 1967 European Championships in her autobiography from 1972.

Note: You can read more about the 1967 European Championships here and here.

European gymnastics championships, Vera Caslavska being jockeyed, May 28, 1967, championships, gymnastics, The Netherlands
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1966 Books Czechoslovakia WAG World Championships

Čáslavská’s Reaction to the 1966 Worlds in “The Road to Olympus”

Even though Čáslavská won the all-around and vault titles, and even though the Czechoslovak team defeated the Soviet team, the 1966 World Championships were still a low point for her — one that she hardly remembers. When she returned home from the competition, she received many letters, some of which were hate mail.

What follows is a translation of The Road to Olympus (Cesta na Olymp), Čáslavská’s 1972 autobiography. Here’s how she remembers Dortmund…

Note: You can read the main article on the 1966 World Championships here.

(GERMANY OUT) Die tschechische Kunstturnerin Vera Caslavska auf dem Schwebebalken, aufgenommen bei den Kunstturn-Weltmeisterschaften in Dortmund am 24.09.66. . (Photo by Schirner/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
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1958 Books Czechoslovakia WAG World Championships

Čáslavská’s Early Years in “The Road to Olympus”

In 1972, Věra Čáslavská published her autobiography, The Road to Olympus (Cesta na Olymp). It provides a detailed recounting of her early days through the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

As a child, Čáslavská was a mischievous and funny child. Though a performer at heart, she struggled with stage fright until her mother helped her work through it, and as an adult, she came to see it as an asset. 

Čáslavská started with ballet, then added ice skating, and finally found gymnastics. Initially, she trained under Czechoslovak gymnastics legend Eva Bosáková, and when Bosáková was away with the national team, Čáslavská used to sneak into the gym to train. Given her relationship with Bosáková, Čáslavská found it difficult to beat her mentor.

From the start, the international crowd loved Čáslavská. At the age of 16, during her first World Championships in 1958, Čáslavská wowed the audience in Moscow — so much so that the public demanded a performance by Čáslavská, even though she didn’t make the floor finals.

Below, I’ve translated sections of Čáslavská’s autobiography, tracing her early years in sports through to her first World Championships in Moscow in 1958.

The cover of Čáslavská’s autobiography