Jiří Vrdlovec

* 1956

  • “One day the head of the Dukla Communist Party unit came to talk to me. I knew this guy and I knew he was forced to do that. With sadness in his eye he explained to me that there was no other way for me than to become a communist. I replied that I was not interested and that I wouldn’t join the Party. He said that I was of course free to do whatever I wanted but that I had to face the consequences. So I told him: ‘Fine, let’s see how it turns out.’ For a couple months nothing had happened but then I learned that it wouldn’t be easy. There was a year- or a two-year-long waiting period for new Party members back then. I wanted to thus elegantly delay my accession to the Party and then say that during the waiting period I learned that I really wasn’t the right one to join the Communist Party ranks. This is also what I did but immediately they began to convince me that I can’t ever think something like that, that I was given significant privilege and that I mustn’t let them down. I insisted that the Party had many flaws and said that I would give it another thought when the flaws are remediated. Then, during training at Moldau river, my coach approached me in a motorboat and told me to immediately report to the head of the Party unit at Dukla. He tried it on me one last time and when I stood my ground he ordered me to come to the Ministry the next day. There they gave me a roasting. At that time I had a family, wanted to do sports and wasn’t enough of a hero to face persecution because of this. So I shut up not to have problems. I can tell you that I am ashamed about this to this day and wish for nobody to live through this. It was nasty.”

  • „(Měli jste s sebou na zájezdech politického hlídače?) Nevím, například v Moskvě to nebylo potřeba. Člověk, kterého jsme pokládali za hlídače, s námi jezdil do Anglie, do Finska nebo jinam na Západ. Ale nejsem si jistý, jestli to skutečně byl hlídač, nebo ne. Když se s ostatními sejdeme u piva, vedeme nekonečné debaty o tom, že kdo byl v Dukle a jednou jel s družstvem na Západ, určitě musí být vedený v nějakém svazku. Probíhalo to takto: když kanoisté odjížděli do západního Německa na závody, kontráš, kterého jsme na Dukle měli, nás šel poučit, abychom se nestýkali s emigranty a tak podobně. Museli jsme pak podepsat, že jsme byli poučeni – a už můj podpis někde figuruje! Když jsme přijeli zpátky, musel jsem říct, že se nic nestalo, že vše proběhlo v pořádku, že jsme propagovali svou socialistickou vlast – a zase jsem mu něco podepsal. Čili někde musíme být vedení.“

  • “Nobody forced me to take dope back then but they offered it to me. I didn’t go for it because I was afraid – my dad died of cancer – and also because I found it unpleasant. Bóža Karlík raised me as a young sportsman to the understanding that sports can be done without doping. At the national team’s training camp it was once explained to us that if we took certain product we would be able to become faster, train more etc. They told us that if anyone from the national team was interested in these products, they would provide them. I got up and left. Nobody ever persecuted me for this. It was however clear that had my results not been good they would have let me go. But I wanted to have good results and if I didn’t manage, I wouldn’t have enjoyed top level sports anymore.”

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    Praha, 05.03.2014

    duration: 01:03:59
    media recorded in project Sports Stories of the 20th Century
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The head of the Party unit told me with sadness that I would need to become a communist

Jiří Vrdlovec, 2014
Jiří Vrdlovec, 2014
photo: Eye Direct

Jiří Vrdlovec was born on 29 June 1956 in Prague. He learned the basics of canoeing under the coach Bohuslav Karlík. Thanks to his good sports results in 1975 he began his compulsory military service with the army sports center Dukla Praha. He then represented Dukla at competitions all until 1987. He was a successful member of the Czechoslovak national team, competing at various international races and at two Olympic Games. In between 1987 and 1998 he worked as a coach in Dukla. Ever since he has been making a living as a craftsman.