Elena Moskalová

* 1948

  • “Now uncle Olda, he liked to play cards, he was a good carpenter and an incredible handyman. His workshop was in the yard, and we were always hanging around there as children. Sometimes he popped down to the pub for a pint, but mostly to play, for five, ten hellers, a ‘bulka’ or whatever they called it. I know they told my father: We didn’t get you, but Olda likes to have a drink, we’ll get him in no time. And before the year was out, he was doing time at Mírov prison, because while he had been sitting around the pub drinking with his mates, someone joined his table and started saying that the Communist Party were a bunch of worthless you-know-what. And uncle happily agreed with it. And so he was reported, even the publican and his wife grassed him up, only she didn’t come to court. She must have been ashamed as the two families knew each other. Before the year was out, he was doing time at Mírov. It changed many things. My male cousin was a great student. My female cousin Olinka had luckily already got her degree from economics, but he had been studying with honours, and then didn’t get into university.”

  • “We were welcomed everywhere in Mexico, except for sometimes, when it wasn’t nice. For instance, when we had half a day off, we used it to send some postcards home and buy some odds and ends. We were wearing blue tracksuits with ‘ČSSR’ written on them in red letters. People at the market were looking at us and before we knew it, started swearing at us for being Russian. We explained that it wasn’t ‘CCCP’, but ‘ČSSR’, and right away people started cheering Hurrah! And VERA CASLAVSKA! They absolutely adored her. People cheered for us so much, I still get goosebumps when I think of it. I think Věra mentioned it publicly many times: imagine the opening ceremony, you march in, they set you in place, they announce country so-and-so and everybody claps, then it moves on, another country, more clapping. But when they announced Republika Checoslovaquia, the whole stadium rose to their feet and chanted: Checo, checo, rarara! You’ve probably seen it and heard it from Věra many times. I remember walking around the tartan of the athletics track, you walked around it and stood in line in alphabetical order. And our group kept bumping into each other, we were literally staggering, we could barely walk. Me personally, I had wobbly legs. It was incredible, the way people supported us, they were wonderful.”

  • “The Olympic village in Mexico in 1968, how much people loved us, was incomparable to Munich in 1972. The Mexicans worshipped the earth under our feet. The village itself was very pretty, there were these high-rises where families would live after the Olympics. It was pristine. I was sharing a room with Irena Hrádková and Věrka Hrabáková. The women athletes would often come and join us, we were a good crowd, always chatting and laughing. We would often bring food from the canteen for the poor gymnasts Matlochová and Tintěrová, who were not allowed to eat before the competition so that they wouldn’t put on weight. There was the high-board diver Milena Duchková and others. I was able to compare it with Munich later and I’m telling you, never before or after did the sportsmen form such a good team. It was all for one, and one for all. On October 8, it was Věruška Čáslavská’s name day, wasn’t it. And Russians came to the Olympic village with some gift or other. And there was a Mexican band wearing sombreros who came to serenade her, and they surrounded her. And we with them; we blocked the Russians from presenting her with the gift, as they would have made a press release stating that everything was ok. And all the people felt for us! There was a press agency there with international press, where we went when we had the time. The Olympics were highly covered, and the newspapers were full of communist nomenclature, such as Walter Ulbricht [the chairman of the National Council of communist East Germany], called Goat’s Beard, and others. All the sportspeople of the world were sitting in that press centre and tearing pictures of communist bigshots out of newspapers and binning them. When we went to games or practise, or to support our boxers and athletes, we were bussed there. The buses were packed, but no one would sit next to the Poles, Bulgarians, East Germans, or Russians. The seats next to them were empty. It was really rather marvellous. I was lucky to sit next to Věra Čáslavská both on the outbound and homebound plane. She had to hide from her fans both in Mexico and back home, or they would have crushed her with love!”

  • “Whatever I did, the family always came first. I guess I must have been brought up in a good family myself, parents and so on. You see – and we haven’t really discussed this yet – lots of my friends went abroad, such as Anička Mifková to Italy, this and that… I had lots of offers to go abroad in my time, and I never went anywhere. To be honest, when the Italians said– I mean, it’s not like nowadays when you can take an au-pair, a physiotherapist, I’m talking about Kateřina Neumannová, it’s brilliant, I well up every time I see that little daughter of hers running into her arms, but that’s not the point… When we went on a training camp, our husbands, let alone our boyfriends, were not allowed to come and see us, it was forbidden! Even though I had lovely offers, in Canada they showed me the house I could have moved into there and then and who knows what else, but the idea that I wouldn’t have been able to see my mom and dad, my little sister and brother – I would have died! I couldn’t have lived abroad, let alone when my own children came. Imagine they told me I could have two weeks off after the season, and then maybe another week to go home at Christmas time. And the husband and child couldn’t come to see me. Regardless of the practical issues of the whole thing, how could I have possibly gone anywhere? I wouldn’t sacrifice the family, no matter how much money I may have had, no way.”

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    Liberec, 27.05.2021

    duration: 02:23:41
    media recorded in project Tipsport for Legends
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Everyone cheered for us in Mexico. I still get goosebumps when I think of it.

The volleyball player Elena Moskalová receiving a service
The volleyball player Elena Moskalová receiving a service
photo: archiv Eleny Moskalové

Elena Moskalová, née Poláková, was born on April 20, 1948. Her family was living in Jablonec nad Nisou. In the 1950s, her father, a sign painter by profession, was persecuted by the communist police, who was trying to destroy his business and punish him for leaving the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Her uncle Oldřich Polák was sentenced to one year in Mírov prison for badmouthing the Party in the pub. Elena started playing volleyball as a child with Jiskra and Bižuterie Jablonec teams. She moved up to the first league at the age of fifteen and even played for junior representation. She managed to combine her top sportsmanship with studies at the Jablonec grammar school. In 1967, her team won a bronze medal at the European Championship, and at the Olympics in Mexico in 1968, they came sixth. She left Mexico cherishing the incredible sense of solidarity demonstrated by the world’s sports community in support of the recently occupied Czechoslovakia. At the European Championship in 1971, her team won silver medals and at the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972, they came seventh. At the time, she witnessed the Palestinian terrorist attack on the Israeli sports delegation. Between 1968-1974, she was a Tatra Střešovice team member. With them, she won the title five times and played the finals of Women’s European Volleyball Cup twice. Střešovice was defeated by the Soviet team then. Between 1974-1977, she played the first league on the Lokomotiva Liberec team. Later she returned to Jablonec, and after her professional retirement, became a coach. With her husband Jiří Moskal, a racing driver and a Dakar Ralley participant, she raised two children, daughter Elena and son Jiří. In the year 2000, she was brought into the Czech Volleyball Union’s Hall of Fame. In 2021, she was living in Jablonec nad Nisou.