by Ladislav Harsányi
SLOVAK SPORT IN THE AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN EMPIRE (19th Century – 1918)
The complicated, unequal position and ethnic oppression of the Slovak nation in the Austro-Hungarian Empire kept Slovaks from creating their own physical education organizations; sports clubs could only exist under Hungarian names.Sporting life in Slovakia in an organized form began to spread in the late 19th century, when the educational gymnastic associations changed to sport.
Horse racing has a long history in Slovakia. The first Arabian horserace took place on 22 May 1814 in Urmin (today Mojmírovce). “Modern” racing premiered on 16 April 1826 in Bratislava’s Petržalka. From 1839 the Bratislava Racing Association which organized races started to function.
Sports with the longest tradition include light and heavy athletics (wrestling, weightlifting), fencing, rowing, boxing, cycling…
Football began to take root at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The first official football match in the present territory of Slovakia was held 25 May 1898 in Prešov between the Budapest clubs Óbudai Tornaegylet and Budapesti Tornaclub. Later that day, the first Slovak football team was established in Prešov (within ETVE – Eperjesi Tornaés Vívóegyesület, translated as the Prešov section of gymnastics and fencing).
In a few days, 7 June 1898, the first football team was established in Bratislava’s Petržalka as a part of the Pressburg Gymnastics Society (PTE – Pozsonyi Torna Egylet).
The expansion of winter sports in the High Tatras began in the 1900 with European Championships in speed skating at Štrbské pleso; three years later the first toboggan run was set up in Tatranská Lomnica and the first ski races were held in 1911 in Tatranská Polianka.
The first Slovak who participated in the Olympic Games and also the first who deserved a medal was the athlete Alojz Sokol. A native from Hronec near Brezno, representing Hungary, finished third in the Olympic Games in Athens (1896) in the hundred meter race. At the time, however, a medal was awarded only to the first two.
Other medalists with a Slovak birthplace or origin in the Olympic Games by 1918 (creation of Czechoslovakia) included the swimmer Zoltán Imrich Halmaj (the most successful from this period – two gold, four silver and one bronze medal in three Olympics), fencer Vojtech Béla Zulawski, sports gymnast Ľudovít Kmeťko, sports shooter Alexander Sándor Prokopp and javelin thrower Mór Kóczán.
AFTER THE ESTABLISHMENT OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA (1918 – 1939)
Although with the establishment of Czechoslovakia (28 October 1918) Slovakia broke free from the oppression of Hungary, organized sports activities in comparison with the economically stronger Czech side considerably limited the lack of material equipment and finances. Small sports were particularly disadvantaged.
Umbrella bodies – the Czechoslovak Sports Community (founded in 1918, in 1928 transformed into the Czechoslovak All-Sports Committee) and the Czechoslovak Olympic
Committee (1919) – were headquartered in Prague and had no Slovak representative. It was however, Czech functionaries, intelligentsia and office workers who helped establish sports clubs in Slovakia.
Football had the most significant path-clearing. The greatest popularity and success achieved was achieved by the First CSSC (The First Czechoslovak Sports Club). It was founded on 3 May 1919, and later became known under the name Slovan.
Between 1927 and 1930 the light-blue uniformed players battled for the title of amateur champions of Czechoslovakia.
Štefan Čambal also came to prominence from this team, and in 1934 was the first Slovak to participate in the World Cup in football. He won the silver medal and was the best player in the Czechoslovak team in the finals against Italy.
After the First World War bandy hockey began to appear (played on ice with rubber or plastic balls), which quickly passed into the Canadian form of ice hockey. In 1929 there was established the Slovak Hockey County and at the turn of 1929/1930 there was held the Tatra Cup in the High Tatras, the second oldest hockey club competition in Europe. Since 1930 the Slovak Championship in ice hockey has been organized. A hockey player from Košice, Ladislav Trojak, was the first Slovak hockey Olympian in the Winter Olympics of 1936 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
In the Summer Olympics in the same year in Berlin, Slovaks in Czechoslovak jerseys received two silver medals – Jozef Herda in wrestling and Matylda Pálfyová as a member of the gymnastics team.
DURING THE SLOVAK STATE (1939 – 1945)
The regulation of the government canceled all sports associations in Slovakia and replaced them with the Hlinka Guard. The Slovak Central Council of Sports was constituted as the central sports authority of the Slovak State.
In addition to Slovak national competitions there were also national teams in various sports as well as sports associations. On 4 November 1938 the Slovak Football Association was established (the hockey association two days later) and the Slovakia football team played sixteen international matches. International contacts were limited given the state of war.
CZECHOSLOVAKIA – AFTER WORLD WAR II (1945 – 1992)
The period after the war was characterized by efforts to unite physical education and sports, which intensified after the communists took power in February 1948. From 1957, sports were centrally administrated through a new body called the Czechoslovak Union of Physical Education (CSPE), centralized in relation to the ideology of the Communist Party.
Out of Slovak sports in the early Olympics after World War II, boxers thrived in particular. In London (1948) Július Torma (parents of this native of Budapest were originally from Štúrovo) won in the welterweight category (under 67 kg) and became the first Czechoslovak boxer in history to win a gold medal. Four years later in Helsinki, Ján Zachara imitated him in the featherweight class (under 57 kg).
In the Olympics in Rome (1960) Pavel Schmidt triumphed in the rowing double sculls along with the Czech Václav Kozák.
Anton Tkáč, (voted second in the poll of Slovak Athletes of the 20th century), three-times world champion in the sprint (track cycling), won gold at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Jozef Pribilinec in the 20 km walk (Seoul, 1988) and Miloš Mečíř in tennis (Seoul, 1988) were the last Slovak Olympic champions in the era of the common state with the Czechs.
From outstanding personalities we would like to mention the athlete Imrich Bugár, the first world champion in discus throwing in the 1982 Helsinki Olympics and a silver medal winner in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.
Handball, Basketball, Volleyball and Wrestling
In the second half of the 50s and 60s Czechoslovakia recorded resounding achievements in volleyball. Bohumil Golian (Slovak volleyball player of the 20th century) was a member of the world championship winning team in the years 1956 and 1966, a European champion (1958), winner of silver at the Olympic Games in Tokyo (1964, together with Joseph Labuda) and bronze winner at the Olympic Games in Mexico as team captain (1968), where he carried the Czechoslovak flag at the opening ceremony.
The trio of Peter Pospíšil, Vincent Lafko and Andrej Lukošík was part of the silver-winning handball team at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
Basketball was also strongly promoted. Slovak basketball players contributed to all of the Czechoslovakia medals from the World and European Championships.
The Moscow 1980 bronze medal contenders Dano Karabin and Július Strnisko were followed up eight years later at the Olympic Games in Seoul by Jozef Lohyňa. The world champion of 1990 is one of the most successful Slovak athletes, racking up eight medals in the World and European Championships in freestyle (two of them after the split of Czechoslovakia).
Football: Resounding Successes of the 60s and 70s
In the most popular sport Slovaks significantly won recognition in Europe at club level, significantly contributing to the winning of silver medals from the 1962 World Cup in Chile and had a dominant presence in the championship team of Europe in 1976.
Slovan CHZJD Bratislava, trained by Michal Vičan, won the 1969 Cup Winners’ Cup (the second most valuable European trophy), when they won the finals in Basel over FC Barcelona (3:2). It is the biggest club success in the football history of Czechoslovakia. The final lineup was as follows: Vencel – Fillo, Hrivnák, Horváth, J. Zlocha – Jozef Čapkovič, Hrdlička – Cvetler, L. Móder (Bizoň), Jokl, Ján Čapkovič. In the same year, Spartak Trnava fought their its way to the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup (ECC).
Eight Slovaks in jerseys of Czechoslovakia contributed to the silver medal at the 1962 World Cup in Chile – Viliam Schrojf (declared to be the best goalkeeper of the tournament), Ján Popluhár (Slovak football player of the 20th century), Adolf Scherer, Jozef Adamec (in 1968 scored a famous hat-trick against Brazil), Jozef Štibrányi, Andrej Kvašňák, Titus Buberník and Pavol Molnár.
In addition to captain Anton Urban, eight more Slovaks are given credit for the 1964 Olympic silver in Tokyo – Vladimír Weiss Sr., Vojtech Masný, Anton Švajlen, František Schmucker, Ján Geleta, Ivan Mráz, Ľudovít Cvetler and Štefan Matlák.
Up to fifteen Slovak players figured in the European Champion squad in 1976 – Alexander Vencel st., Pavol Michalík, Koloman Gőgh, Jozef Čapkovič, captain Anton Ondruš, Ján Pivarník, Karol Dobiaš, Jaroslav Pollák, Marián Masný, Ján Švehlík, Dušan Galis, Ladislav Jurkemik, Jozef Móder, Pavol Biroš and Dušan Herda. The Slovak coach of the 20th century Jozef Vengloš led the team alongside Václav Ježek.
In the finals against the Federal Republic of Germany in Belgrade (20 June 1976) eight Slovak players entered the starting line-up (the ninth came on as a substitute). Goals for the Czechoslovak team were scored by Karol Dobiaš and Ján Švehlík. The Germans levelled the score at 2:2, with Czechoslovakia winning the game on penalties 5:4. Thus, the team sensationally became the European champions, when they were able to defeat the 1974 World Cup finalists Holland and West Germany.
Regarding the Olympic gold in 1980 in Moscow, it was won by the goalkeeper Stanislav Seman and defender František Kunzo, both in Czechoslovak colors.
Nepela: Slovak athlete of the 20th century
Ondrej Nepela (22 January 1951), a figure skater from Bratislava was the first Slovak Olympic champion at the Winter Olympics. According to his trainer Hilda Múdra he did not display extraordinary talent, however, he was tremendously tough, disciplined and purposeful, and by the early 70s had developed into the best figure skater in the world. In 1973, when he retired, he had won the European champion title five times in a row (1969-1973) and had been world champion three times in a row (1971 – 1973), the last on Bratislava ice. His career was embellished by an Olympic victory in Sapporo (1972). He built on the achievements of Karol Divín who was European champion in 1958 and 1959 and won Winter Olympic silver in 1960.
After reiringas as 22-year-old, he went to Germany, where he focused professionally on the Holiday on Ice show and coaching. He also trained the 1989 European Champion Claudia Leistner. Throughout his life he concealed his homosexual orientation, dying at 38-years old from AIDS. In 2000 he was declared Slovak athlete of the 20th century and in Bratislava an ice stadium is named after him.
Ice Hockey and Winter Sports
Hockey along with football vied for the honor of the most popular sport in Czechoslovakia. Although Czech hockey players were prevalent, hockey figures also emerged in Slovakia.
Ladislav Trojak became the first ever Slovak to win a medal at the Winter Olympics – in 1948 in St. Moritz as a member of the silver men’s team of hockey players.
Goalkeeper Vladimír Dzurilla in the 60s, and especially in the 70s, became a world star. In addition to gaining three Olympic medals he received three World Championship titles (1972, 1976, 1977) and the world marveled at his performance at the Canada Cup in 1976. He emanated a stoic calmness and performed with fantastic reflexes. He was declared Slovak hockey player of the 20th century and received third place in the overall listings.
The biggest Czechoslovak players include Jozef Golonka and the following can also be proud of being world champions: Marcel Sakáč, Milan Kužela, Rudolf Tajcnár, Július Haas, bratia Peter and Marián Šťastní, Dárius Rusnák (captain of the world champions in 1985), Igor Liba, Vincent Lukáč and Dušan Pašek.
Olympic medals were earned by Dzurilla (3), Golonka (2), Liba (2), František Gregor, Rudolf Tajcnár, Dárius Rusnák, Vincent Lukáč, Dušan Pašek, Jaromír Dragan, Róbert Švehla and Peter Veselovský.
Ján Starší, a player, but mainly a coach, became a hockey legend. He is the only Slovak coach to hold two world champion titles and a silver from the Winter Olympics.
In 1980 the brothers Anton and Peter Šťastní emigrated to Canada (in one year followed by their brother Marián). All three played in the NHL, in particular Peter was – after Wayne
Gretzky, the second most productive player of the 1980s and since 1988 he’s been a member of the NHL Hall of Fame.
Skier Gabriela Svobodová, silver medalist in the 4×5 km cross-country skiing in the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo (1980) and figure skater Jozef Sabovčík, a bronze medalist in the same event, the double European champion and number one figure skater in the world, who once did a quad jump during the international competition also made (Czech) Slovak sport more visible.
AFTER THE EMERGENCE OF THE SLOVAK REPUBLIC (1 January 1993 – August 2016)
After the split of Czechoslovakia, the individual sports sector had to agree on the division of federal property. In team sports there were also succession rights for top international events in games.
Slovak ice hockey suffered the worst, when succession was acquired by the Czechs and Slovaks had to work their way to the top of the World Champion C category.
The federal authorities were headquartered in Prague; thus in Slovakia it was necessary to create a new sports structure of sport and its management – practically from scratch, with a lack of experienced and knowledgeable officials.
The Slovak Association of Physical Culture (SAPE) comprised an umbrella organization. By the end of 1992 the Slovak Olympic Committee (SOC) was established, the following year it was admitted as a member of the International Olympic Committee. The Physical Culture State Fund emerged concentrating on funding to support sport.
The separate Slovakia sent their first team to the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer (1994), numbering 42 athletes. The historic first Olympic point was gained by the biathlete Martina Jašicová (6th place at 15 km).
The Slovak Republic competed in the last Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (2016) with two gold and two silver medals, ranking 37 among other countries.
Regarding major sporting events, Slovakia has hosted the World Winter Universiade was in Štrbské Pleso and Osrblie (2015), the World Championship in ice hockey (Bratislava, Košice, 2011), the World Cup in Slalom (Bratislava – Čunovo, 2011), the European Championships in Figure Skating (Bratislava, 2016) and the World Championship and European Championship in the biathlon (Brezno-Osrblie, 1997, or 2012).
Water slalom: Record holders Hochschorner and Martikán
This sport has been profiled as the most successful in the history of individual sports in the country. Olympics water slalom has so far brought eight gold medals, three silver and two bronze medals.
The twins Peter and Pavol Hochschorner won three gold and one bronze medal in the double canoe and are the most successful in Slovak Olympic history (in addition to being five-time world champions and six-time gold winners in the European Championships). These Bratislava natives, as the first water slalomists in the world, became triple Olympic winners. Their golden feats were accomplished in Sydney (2000), Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008). Their achievements were also achieved thanks to the support and cooperation of their closest family – their father Peter is their longtime coach while their mother Gabika takes care of the service of their equipment.
In their results and modest demeanor the Hochschorners have gained recognition and great respect.
Michal Martikán, a native of Liptovský Mikuláš, has won two gold, two silver and one bronze medal in the C1 in five Olympic Games. He was the first Olympic champion in the modern history of Slovakia, historically the youngest Olympic champion in wild water canoeing (17 years old). In the number of medals from the Olympic Games (5) he is the Slovak record-holder. Also, Elena Kaliská was a two-time Olympic winner, (K1 discipline), and Slovakia’s flag-carrier at the Olympics in Beijing (2008).
The last gold medal was won for by the cousins Ladislav and Peter Škantár at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro (C2). Juraj Minčík (C1 bronze in 2000 in Sydney) and Matej Beňuš (silver in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, also in C1) also contributed to the collection of medals.
Jana Dukátová is ranked among the most successful competitors as triple junior and a senior world champion in 2006.
Two top facilities have also created good conditions for water slalom in Slovakia – in Liptovský Mikuláš and Bratislava – Čunovo. Top international events are organized there (World Cup, European Championships, et al.).
Swimming: Moravcová – First Lady
She is decorated with many titles, records and has a lot of charisma. Martina Moravcová, a native of Piešťany (16.1.1976), has earned the title of the first lady of Slovak sport. From top events (World Championships, European Championships and the Olympics), twenty years of a career of twenty years brought her 67 medals, two of them Olympic, 22 world and 43 European medals. She is listed in 3 world, 16 European and 207 Slovak senior records. This six-time best sportswoman of Slovakia (a Slovak record) has attended five Olympics, the first as a 16-year-old from Czechoslovakia. She experienced her peak in Sydney (2000), where she gained a silver medal in the 100 m butterfly and the 200 m freestyle. Besides her mother, Moravcová has been led by the trainers Ladislav Hlavatý and Viera Čamborová, with her most significant achievements coming after graduating from university in Dallas, Texas in 1995 and after working with the committed coach Steve Collins. Her active career officially ended in December 2012. She lives in Dallas, but regularly returns to Piešťany, annually organizing summer swimming sites for talented children.
Speed Canoeing: Quadruple Kayak as a Flagship
Slovakia has a long history with world leaders in this sport since kayaker Attila Szabó (three medals from the World Championship for Czechoslovakia, one for Slovakia).
The flagship is the quadruple kayak, where in the Olympics Slovakia has two silver and one bronze medal. All of these were for Erik Vlček (also a 10-time world champion), Juraj Tarr with two silver medals.
The brothers Michal and Richard Riszdorfer also have two Olympic medals for the quadruple kayak (silver and bronze), Juraj Bača has bronze and Slavomir Kňazovický won silver at the 1996 Olympics in the C1 for 500 meters.
Sports shooting: Olympic Collection
In terms of success we rank in the top 5 in this sport. Slovakia has gained five medals in the Olympics. Jozef Gönci began the collection with two bronze metals (sports shooting – any small caliber in 1996 in Atlanta, airgun 60 in 2004 Athens).
So far the most successful were the London Olympics (2012), Zuzana Rehák-Štefečeková (world champion in 2010, won second place in the Beijing Olympics in trap) won a silver medal, and a bronze medal was won by Danka Barteková in skeet. She is also currently also a member of the MOV.
Erik Varga is a two-time world champion in trap. The world’s best includes Pavol Kopp and Juraj Tužinský.
Football: Two Premiere Entries
For its first success the Slovak team had to wait until 2009, when it qualified for the first time for the World Cup in South Africa (2010) under the direction of coach Vladimír Weiss Sr. The Slovak team progressed to be among the eight finalists in the World Cup after sensationally knocking out the then world champions Italy.
The Slovak premier football players were presented at the European Championships in 2016 in France under the leadership of Ján Kozák Sr. and played among the eight finalists. Marek Hamšík (5 times voted the best Slovak football player) is a key representative player also in Italy’s SSC Neapol. In August 2016 he played for Napoli for a tenth season, breaking a club record, and is an idol of fans.
Another well-known Slovak is the current captain Martin Škrtel (4-times Footballer of the Year), who played for FC Liverpool for eight years and currently playing for Fenerbahce Istanbul.
Artmedia Petržalka and MŠK Žilina successfully qualified to the Champions’ League group stage (after one year) while ŠK Slovan Bratislava is the most successful in the domestic league (8 titles after the formation of the SR).
Ice hockey: From Group C to World Champions
After the split of Czechoslovakia only one state could enter the elite World Championship category and the Directorate of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) chose the Czech side. Slovakia had to make its way through to the World Champion C Group, which it managed under coach Július Šupler very quickly – as early as 1996.
The team gained its first major success in 2000 at the World Championships in St. Petersburg, where they received silver medals. In the team were players like Zdeno Chára, Miroslav Šatan, Ľubomír Višňovský, Michal Handzuš and Miroslav Hlinka. Those who have figured in the elite among the top personalities of Slovak hockey in recent decades are names like Žigmund Pálffy, Zdeno Cíger, Pavol Demitra, Marián Hossa, Marián Gáborík, Jozef Stümpel, Richard Lintner and Peter Bondra.
The most memorable day in Slovak hockey is 11 May 2002, when the national team won the gold medal at the Gothenburg World Cup under the guidance of coach Ján Filc, who two years previously led the team to silver and in the 2010 Olympics to 4th place. The hockey players led by František Hossa (bronze at the 2003 World Championships 2003) and Czech coach Vladimír Vůjtek (silver at the 2012 World Championships) have won other medals in hockey.
Several Slovaks have proven themselves in the NHL, the following have won the Stanley Cup: Marián Hossa (three-time winner), Tomáš Kopecký (two-time winner), Miroslav Šatan, Zdeno Chára, Michal Handzuš, Marián Gáborík, Jiří Bicek and Martin Cibák. For the sake of completeness let us add that that the trophy was won in 1961 by Stan Mikita, a player of Slovak origin, who is a member of the NHL Hall of Fame.
In 2011 Slovakia successfully organized the Ice Hockey World Championship (Bratislava, Košice).
It has won the right to organize the championship again in 2019. For the fifth year already HC Slovan Bratislava has been part of the prestigious Continental Hockey League – CHL. (http://www.hockeyslovakia.sk/en)
Biathlon: Fairy tale of Kuzminová
The biathlon is one of the most successful Slovak winter sports. Its center is the area of Osrblie, which has seen several top international events.
The following have won Olympic medals for Slovakia: Martina Jašicová-Schwarzbacherová and Soňa Mihoková (two times in the women’s relay) and Marek Matiaško. Pavol Hurajt battled in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics to win bronze in the race with a mass start at 15 km.
Anastasia Kuzminová (born Šipulinová), from Tyumen in Russia, brought the greatest honor to the Slovak biathlon. She married a Russian living in Slovakia (Daniel Kuzmin is also a former skier-runner and cross country coach for Anastasia) and has a son called Yenisei. Since the Russian side did not allow her to fulfill her maternity duties, she applied for citizenship in the Slovak Republic. In December 2008 she acquired and launched an extremely successful career in the Slovak national jersey. In a few months, she won silver at the World Championships in Pyeongchang in the race with a mass start at 12.5 km. In the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver (2010) she excelled when she won the 7.5 km race – the first gold for Slovakia at the Winter Olympics in the history of its independence. In the 10 km race she added silver. She won the gold four years later at the Olympics in Sochi. After a two-year break, during which she dedicated herself to motherhood (the birth of her daughter Olivia) she returned to compete in the 2016/2017 season. She is the two-time best sportswoman of Slovakia (2010, 2014) and her enormous fighting spirit and personal demeanor has won the hearts of Slovaks.
Skiing: Queen of the Slopes Zuzulová
In slalom Veronika Velez Zuzulová belongs with the top in the world, winning silver in 2015/2016 at the World Cup. In the Olympics her best position is tenth place (Vancouver 2010). Currently the young slalomist Petra Vlhová is a good second.
Snowboarding: Židek’s silver
The first medal (silver) in the Slovak era of independence was won at Winter Olympics by snowboarder Radoslav Židek, in the boardercross discipline in 2006.
Basketball: Ružomberok bastion
The women’s basketball team won silver at the European Championships (1997) and MBK Ružomberok has been the best European club stwice in a row (1999, 2000) as Euroleague winners.
Two considerable successes have been achieved by the pair of Natália Hejková (assistant coach and trainer) and Iveta Bieliková (captain of both teams and member of the European All-Stars in 1997).
Tennis: Women’s Triumph in the Fed Cup
The greatest success in the era of independence was attained by the women’s team, which in 2002 won the Fed Cup under the leadership of captain Tomáš Malík consisting of Janette Husárová, Henrieta Nagyová, Daniela Hantuchová (in August 2002, the fifth player in the world) and Martina Suchá. The men played in the Davis Cup finals in 2005, with a team consisting of Hrbatý, Karol Kučera, and Michal Mertiňák. Currently, the best Slovak tennis player is Dominika Cibulková, finalist at the 2014 Australian Open. (https://www.stz.sk/)
Athletics: Walking Race King Matej Tóth
Slovak athletics saw its first medal at the Olympics in their history of independence with Matej Tóth in the 50 km walk. A year after the world champion title in 2015, the Nitra native attained a lifetime success in Rio de Janeiro by tactically and perfectly managing the race. The racer from VŠC Dukla Banska Bystrica is characterized by his unbreakable will, enhanced by his humility, smile and his human warmth. He has been one of the biggest Slovak sports personalities in the past ten years. He is the winner of the World Cup in walking, vice-champion of Europe, participant in three Olympics and four times the best athlete in Slovakia.
Concerning Slovak athletic success, Mária Hrašnová, a hammer thrower, became the Slovak bronze medalist at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin and is two-times the runner ap champion of Europe (Helsinki 2012, Zürich 2014). In the same discipline, Slovak men have excelled with Marcel Lomnický (5th place at the Olympic Games in Rio) and Libor Charfreitag (European champion, bronze in the World Championships).
Cyclist: The Sagan Phenomenon
After the success of Milan Jurča in road cycling, a member of the Czechoslovakia silver and bronze team at the World Championships in the 100 km time trial, he has also earned medals on his own.
Milan Dvorščík won a bronze medal in the World Championships for amateurs (1994).
After gaining the rainbow jersey of world champion in the category for 23 years of age (2007), Peter Velits earned three more scalps in the time trial (2012, 2013, 2014), in which he is the most successful world championship racer.
World cycling phenomenon Peter Sagan, world champion in road cycling in 2015, is the owner of five green jerseys in a row in the Tour de France (2012-2016). He is the two-time best Slovak Athlete of the Year (2013, 2015) and has dominated world rankings in the international cycling union UCI World Tour (August 2016).
In 2008 the Žilina native won the World Junior Championships in mountain biking and in the same year won silver at the World Championships in cyclocross. Since 2009, he has specialized in road cycling, riding professionally since 2010. In the Tour de France 2016 he was declared the most competitive athlete of the year. He was the first Slovak to ride the Tour in the yellow jersey of a race leader (3rd to 5th stage). His stamina is almost inexhaustible, setting a high threshold for pain. Currently, there is no other more popular Slovak athlete at home and worldwide. The “Tourminator” is one of Sagan’s nicknames and he is one of the most popular cyclists on the planet. Fans praise him not only for his performances, but also adore his unconventional demeanor and his own showman style. The Tinkoff racer will ride in 2017 for the German team Bora Hansgrohe. He signed a contract with them for three years with an annual income of about five million euros, making him one of the top-earning cyclists in the world.
In non-Olympic sports Slovak sport has attained worldwide success in fitness, karate and bodybuilding, regularly gaining many medals at top events.
The floor hockey men’s team have been world champions three times (1999, 2013, 2015).
The women’s team have won gold once (2011).
In motocross Štefan Svitko has risen to prominence, attaining second place in the 2016 Dakar Rally. Ivan Jakeš reached fourth place in the same race (2013).
Disabled Slovak athletes regularly winn medals at the Paralympics – most recently in Sochi in winter they won seven and then six medals in London in the summer.
REFERENCES AND RESOURCES
Book publications and brochures:
Collective: Sports Chronicles 1993 – 1997, Šport Press, Bratislava 1998
Ľubomír Souček: Our Olympic Medalists and Olympians, SOV, Bratislava 2010
Collective: Small Encyclopedia of Physical Education and Sports, Obzor a Šport, Bratislava 1982
Denníky Šport, Pravda, Sme
Websites and portals:
official website for athletes