Vera Caslavska And The Amazing Story Of Her 1968 Olympics

Samuel Reason

Mexico City in 1968 was brimming, hosting the Olympic games with champions being made every step of the way. And there were many life-changing decisions during this time by athletes taking a stand in the world of politics. Many made their disdain for their government’s decisions known well on the podium. What was the most iconic moment? Well, many would say it was Tommie Smith’s black power salute – but today we are going to talk about something else.

bbci.co.uk

The protest was from Czech gymnast Vera Caslavska, which was in regard to the Soviet-led invasion of her country just two weeks earlier. Her protest was more subtle but still noticed, she turned away from the Soviet Union flag which she advised was representing her invaders.

And though the action was very subtle, even understated, not really noticed. The ramifications were immense, as we learned later from another gymnast Mary Prestidge. As part of an exchange program, Prestidge had spent time training with Caslavska to train for the Mexico Games. Caslavska was already a superstar having won multiple gold medals in the Tokyo Olympics of 1964.

But in August 1968 she was forced into hiding due to the Soviet Union led invasion of Czechoslovakia. With the Olympic Games just two months away she should have been training hard in a gymnasium. Instead, she found herself shoveling coal to toughen up her hands and training on a makeshift balance beam. She had to stay in hiding as she was a known figure that spoke out against the Soviet Union.

It didn’t take her long though to show up in the limelight, while most athletes from the Soviet Union found themselves being booed. Caslavska was able to captivate the home audience with a routine that featured Mexican hat dance music.

Of course, this did not sit well with the USSR as they could not have Caslavska standing at the top of the podium better than their athletes. So they paid off the judges, and scores were revised. In the end, Caslavska did win gold medals but she shared first place with Larisa Petrik from the USSR. This meant the USSR flag would be raised also at the same level as the Czech flag.

Unfortunately, the tragedies did not end there for Caslavska who would be forced into retirement when she returned home and put under house arrest. She did not see society again until 20 years later when the Soviet Union collapsed and she was able to start coaching gymnastics.

Next Article
  • The Legend Of The Sleeping Barbarossa Emperor

    Emperor Frederick I. also known as Barbarossa was an Emperor of modern-day Germany. He became a symbol of stability and national unity, even years after his death. Because the country fell into war and civil war, the people longed for the peace that had existed with Barbarossa’s rule. The legend started because his body was...

    Read More
  • The Infamous Shark Arm Case in Australia

    In 1935, the infamous case of the shark arm started when a tiger shark in captivity vomited up a human arm. The tiger shark was in the Coogee Aquarium Baths on public display. After just a week it became very ill and vomited in front of a crowd. What came out was the forearm of...

    Read More
  • In Russia Cows Are Wearing VR Headsets To Produce More Milk

    You may have seen the photos flying around social media of cows wearing VR headsets. And no they’re not actually fake. These Russian farmers have been putting VR headsets on their cows. Apparently, it can lead to a much higher yield of milk and more money for the farmers. Of course, commenters quickly asserted that...

    Read More
  • The Crypt Of Civilization

    An airtight chamber that was built sometime between 1937 and 1940 is found in Georgia, by the Oglethorpe University. It’s called the Crypt of Civilization and is not planned to be opened until AD 8113. The container is filled with many artifacts and sound recordings from early 20th-century life. The idea was to build something...

    Read More
  • Crooked Teeth Are A Modern Phenomenon

    When you think about cavemen you probably think about clubs, caves, and running away from dinosaurs. So having time for dental hygiene would not have been a top priority. However, research shows that ancient humans had much better teeth than today. Crooked and ill-aligned teeth are a completely modern phenomenon. ...

    Read More
  • Swedish Man Who Tried To Build A Nuclear Reactor In His Home

    One Swedish man tried for months to build a nuclear reactor in his kitchen, and he would probably have never stopped. Richard Handl was curious if he could split an atom at home. Police finally shut down his home research center after he made a call to the radiation authorities to ask if what he...

    Read More
  • The Infamous Stock Market Hackers Of 1834

    A little-known tale of one of the first times cyber crime happened on the stock market is the tale of the Blanc brothers. What’s even more amazing is it happened in 1834 when there was no internet or computers. But since 1794, France had its national telecommunication lines and network called the semaphore telegraph. It...

    Read More
  • Elderly Tenant Received Over $17 Million To Move Out

    A reclusive man who had lived alone for over 30 years was paid an estimated $17 million to move out of a rent-controlled apartment in New York. By far the most expensive payment ever made to relocate a tenant. Apparently, the man’s apartment was extremely damp, very cluttered, and cramp, but still, he refused to...

    Read More