Czech athletes brought home three silver and three bronze medals from the World Games 2022 in Birmingham, USA. The three second places were won by bowler Jaroslav Lorenc, our inline hockey players and orienteering runner Tereza Janošíková, who was carrying the Czech flag at the closing ceremony. The floorball players, kickboxer Petr Dvořáček and orienteering runner Tomáš Křivd won the bronzes.
"And to these we have to add six fourth places, so there were more athletes very close to a medal. I believe that the vast majority of our competitors left the Games feeling that they’d done their best, which is in fact the most important thing in my opinion. From the sporting and organizational point of view, the World Games were a big success," said Martin Doktor, head of the team and sports director of the Czech NOC.
The World Games, which are intended for non-Olympic sports or non-Olympic disciplines of Olympic sports, were held in Birmingham, USA, a year later than originally planned due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the postponement of the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Czechia was represented by 88 athletes in 17 sports. The largest city in the state of Alabama hosted such a large international multisport event for the very first time. "But the organizers dealt with it really well. Southern hospitality and friendliness could be felt everywhere. The locals welcomed the event with open arms, and warmly greeted all the guests. There were also full stadiums at a number of events," added Doktor.
In total, 3,600 athletes from more than one hundred countries took part in the World Games. They would all meet at the university campus, at sports grounds and, in the case of the Czech team, also in the Czech House, where the team could make use of medical and relaxation facilities, including physiotherapy or a physician's office.
"I think it's a great idea, I'm really excited about the organization within the Czech team," said squash player Jakub Solnický. Tereza Kreuzová from the women’s lacrosse team added: "The Czech House was our local home. It was great to have this kind of background and physiotherapy at our disposal. Especially considering the fact that we went to Birmingham straight from the World Championships,” she also said while praising the World Games. "We’d never experienced such a thing before. There are a lot of different sports here, which creates a completely different atmosphere. It's amazing."
Czech athletes supported each other also at stadiums and other venues, schedule permitting. To take one example, at the finals of the inline hockey tournament, they even matched up to the more numerous home fans when cheering. "In this respect, the World Games are similar to the Olympic Games – they are unique because they bring together athletes from all kinds of different sports who would otherwise have no chance of meeting each other. Moreover, sports disciplines also fight for their Olympic future here. It's really important for them how they handle the whole thing. Here, of course, it was much easier for all the sports that are popular in the USA," said Filip Šuman, Vice-President of the Czech Olympic Committee for non-Olympic sports.
The World Games include both sports that have an Olympic past and those that would like to have an Olympic future. "The World Games are interesting because of its huge variety of sports. The very best of the best in the respective sports disciplines compete here, and it’s very difficult to qualify, because international competition is really strong. The fact that 73 countries won at least one medal clearly proves this," added Filip Šuman. "The last World Games were held in Poland, which was much easier for all our participants. This time the event took place on a different continent, in a different time zone. I’m therefore very pleased that the Czech team did so well."
The next World Games are planned for 2025 in Chengdu, China.