Jiří Beran

* 1954  

  • “Fencing is so strong a sport that it became a lifestyle. Although I still like football, and I still play it for recreation, fencing is another matter. Our whole family except my wife are fencers. My son has long - for about eight years - been our number one, my daughter got herself all the way into the junior national team, then she had to stop because of an injury. My daughter’s husband is a fencer - a four-times national champion - and he also finished his career not long ago. The whole family fences, and we talk about it and even life in similar ways. I’ll give an example. When my daughter was getting married six years ago, she was marrying a fencer, and we couldn’t find a date for the wedding because of various international tournaments. And because they wanted it to be in spring, we found one date. We had to reschedule the tournament in Liberec because the wedding was attended by fencers from all over the country. So it was one big fencers’ wedding. It’s something that I very dearly love to do.”

  • “We - because we did the sport - we had one huge advantage. During a season we would have some three world cups abroad, in the West. So we could go to Bern, say, in Switzerland, where the Heidemheim was held regularly every year. They have traditional tournaments there that continue to this day, and were back then as well. So that was something of a festive occasion. When you got past those borders and saw how things were at some tournament - especially in Switzerland - you wondered how it was even possible? They don’t work any longer, they’re not more clever, yet somehow everything works there... Whereas when you came back home, you had to wait queues for almost everything. My wife always said, what’s the matter with you? I was always depressed by it for a week or so. I just couldn’t figure it out, why it was like that. If you didn’t get outside, you stayed hidden in the pot and you didn’t realise it. But as soon as you got out and you saw the contrast when you returned, it was always a bit more complicated. It gave you a different perspective when you could compare with how it was outside.”

  • “When I think back to that year 1984, which was the Olympics that didn’t happen, we prepared for it a lot with the team back then. The team comprised Jarda Jurka, Jirka Douba, Doboš, Kubiša, Beran. We were preparing for it very intensely of course, like for any Olympics. Then we were told we wouldn’t attend the Olympics, which was quite a blow, you can imagine. I still had my profession, I was a construction manager. When I found out we wouldn’t be going, I devoted myself all the more to my work, so it wasn’t so terrible for me. But there were also boy from Dukla there, for whom participating in an Olympics was also interesting financially, they could be promoted and so on. It was the pinnacle they were aiming for. I had two aims - to be good in fencing, but also to have some kind of career. So I was at a slight advantage because of that. Paradoxically, the situation was such that back then in 1984 there was something of a “spite olympics”, a kind of an Olympic substitute. It was attended by the countries that were not participating in the Olympics, that is, the Socialist Bloc. Those were awfully strong countries. That was Cuba, the Soviet Union, Hungary, Poles. Those were real fencing superpowers. And at the time in Budapest, which is where this small olympics took place - the Hungarians were actually promised prize money at the same level as if they’d won the Olympics - and we beat the Hungarians back then. Before that we’d beaten the GDR team, which was also excellent. We only lost the first place contest against the Soviet Union. We were really well prepared back then. Jarda Jurka placed second there I think, and I managed to defeat the reigning world champion Papp.”

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    Praha, 17.03.2014

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    duration: 54:59
    media recorded in project Sports Stories of the 20th Century
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If you loose your cool, you don’t stand a chance

Jiří Beran, 2015
Jiří Beran, 2015

Jiří Beran was born in Prague in 1954. His parents were sporting people, and they raised their boy to be a sportsman. He started playing league football when he was eight, but his promising career was cut short by a thigh injury. Only later, at the age of twenty-one, a classmate introduced him to fencing. He participated in international tournaments at his own expense, but in 1981 he worked his way into the Czechoslovak national fencing team. Besides competitive sports, he studied at the Czech Technical University in Prague and was then employed as a construction manager for thirty years. Jiří Beran’s greatest accomplishments in fencing include ranking sixth at the world championships in Barcelona in 1985 and winning the world cup three years later. His family was deeply affected by a car accident in Bulgaria in 1987, which had severe consequences mainly for his wife. Because of this, Jiří Beran began taking his children with his to tournaments and seminars, thus bringing them closer to the fencing community and kindling in them a love for fencing. After the Velvet Revolution he and his friends founded their own fencing group and later built up their own fencing hall in Prague-Letňany. A few years ago Jiří Beran finally began working in sports full-time, becoming the trainer of the Czech national fencing team. His son Jiří is currently the best fencer in the Czech Republic.