The medals are at home. Czech team returned from European Youth Olympic Festival

The gold medal was won by the ice-hockey team and the bronze medal by snowboarder Maria Kreisingerová. On Saturday the Czech youth Olympic team returned from European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF). Fifty-three athletes represented the Czech Republic in eight sports in Sarajevo.

“We are pleased to have won two, or better to say twenty-one medals, but this is not the most important factor for us at European Youth Olympic Festivals. Many athletes made their debut at a big international event, earned valuable experience and enjoyed the atmosphere of the big Olympic event,” Martin Doktor, the chef de mission, said.

The first Czech medal was won by 15-year old snowboarder Marie Kreisingerová who was third in slopestyle race. “I am really happy to have won the medal. Everything went as I wanted, and the bronze is a great reward,” she said.

This success was followed by U17 ice-hockey team which defeated Russia 2-1 in the opening game, then beat Switzerland 3-0 and came back to the game also in the third period of the final and defeated Belarus 3-1.

“May be, it was the last time we played at an Olympic tournament. It is a fascinating feeling we will remember for long. We have enjoyed the whole event and the golden medals are a great ending of it,” the captain Michal Gut, who has already played for first-league team Piráti Chomutov, said.

The other key players were goalkeeper Jan Bednář who has league starts for Karlovy Vary or Tobiáš Handl from Olomouc who carried the Czech flag at the opening ceremony of the European Youth Olympic Festival.

“We came to the tournament with the aim to win it. The opening victory against Russia was a perfect start and we fulfilled the role of favourites in the final, though it was a very difficult game for our boys. But they have managed to win, and I must appreciate their efforts,” head coach of ice-hockey team Karel Beran said.

The other Czech athletes supported their team-mates at all ice-hockey games. “I am glad that the ice-hockey players agreed to participate despite having played at another tournament in Sweden before the European Youth Olympic Festival. Some of the players had to fly directly to Sarajevo. The atmosphere at our games was superb and the whole team gelled together,” Doktor added.

Goalkeeper Jan Bednář and defenceman Ondřej Baláž were elected the best players of the tournament.

Also, biathlete Bára Babánková came close to a podium, but she finished fourth in the 6-kilometre sprint. Mathias Vacek, the cross-country skier, whose brother Karel is one of the greatest talents of Czech cycling, was a bit unlucky. Mathias practises both sports and he finished fourth in Sarajevo in the 7.5 km race classical.

The European Youth Olympic festival is organised for the athletes from 14 to 18 years of age. The Czechs won three medals at the last winter EYOF in Turkish Erzurum held two years ago.