Jaroslav Hellebrand

* 1945

  • “What had happened? After the end of my career, I did not know what other sport to do so I eventually started paragliding. After four or five years I had a bad landing. I damaged my spine and then they told me I could no longer walk which really hurt my feelings. So I said no, that I would walk again. But I only made it to a certain state before becoming haunted by various additional injuries. I would only use my right leg and as a result destroyed my knee. An operation followed and eventually they gave me a metal knee replacement. I broke my leg twice… But I will not weep here over whatever happened to me – that would be a very long list.”

  • “I would go to school and then – no big studying – straight to the boatyard. I really had a good basis from what I did with the boys there before going on the water. I made use of it in the initial period, before I got into the hands of a real coach. My first coach was Mr. Barták who trained the Czech Rowing Club on the Rowing Island in Prague. He trained me with a partner of mine with whom I competed in double scull. His name was Petr Krátký and we had been rowing together for four years. But he then stayed at the Mexico Olympics and left with the German team for Germany because his parents were of German origin. He fled and I remained on my own, so I started with single scull. I competed in it for another four years and after this time a new discipline emerged, called the quad scull. I was with it from the very beginning when nobody really knew how to adjust it and what would it be like. And this was one of the best of my rowing periods."

  • “I was most impressed by my first Olympic Games. To this day, I still really like to recall it. It was in Mexico, Mexico City and unfortunately me and my double scull partner did not make any particular impact. It may have been my fault because I was not handling well the altitude which is around 2500 meters in there. We ended up twelfth which was a failure because the year before that we ended up third in double scull and therefore had higher expectations. But the Olympics were amazing, which was also to some extent caused by them being held in 1968. Everyone slapped us on the back and told us just how evil those Russians were to come to our country and to torment us. So the Olympics were amazing and just amazing. None of the other ones that I have been to have I liked so much.”

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    Praha, 08.07.2014

    (audio)
    duration: 51:35
    media recorded in project Sports Stories of the 20th Century
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Rowing is rowing, there is nothing to add to that

Jaroslav Hellebrand in the dress of Dukla in 1968
Jaroslav Hellebrand in the dress of Dukla in 1968

Jaroslav Hellebrand was born on 30 December 1945 in Prague. He had spent his childhood in Prague’s Smíchov quarter where as a young boy he started doing sports. After enrolling in a local grammar school he became a member of the rowing unit of sport club Tatra Smíchov. He enjoyed rowing very much and soon thereafter celebrated the first successes. At the beginning of his career he had specialized in double scull. After his partner’s emigration to Western Germany he had for a while transferred to single scull, finishing third at a world championship in Canada. He had participated in three Olympic Games. The first ones, held in 1968 in Mexico City, were the most exciting for him. Nevertheless, only at his last Olympics in Montreal, 1976 had he won his first medal, taking bronze in quad scull. In the course of his career he managed to graduate from the Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Charles University in Prague. He retired from active sports in 1980, later teaching at a sports school and doing ground works. He had also engaged in paragliding which turned out to be nearly fatal. In 2000 he had fallen down from a 30-metre height, damaging his spine. The doctors expected him never to walk again but he had fought his injury bravely. Nevertheless, at present he spends most of his time in a wheelchair. Jaroslav Hellebrand has five children, his youngest son Jaroslav is himself a promising rower.