One of the most famous disabled athletes in the world is cyclist Jiří Ježek. He won the Paralympic Games six times, and he was allowed to start at the time trial at Tour de France. Few people know that he was at the birth of Emil Open. He is a passionate promoter of the event taking place in Brno in these days.
How did the project Emil Open start?
We as Emil Foundation were supporting young disabled athletes in the long term, so they could do their sport, so they had the means, environment, opportunities. They had the thought of not having enough competitions. The city of Brno came with the idea to host this beautiful festival. So it began and in the course of time, there were discussions and effort about what sports to put into this. And this beautiful tradition began. The first year was good and all participants were happy that there was an event like this. For the disabled, there are mostly competitions for adults, but for youth of this age, from 10 years up, there are not so many. That is really frustrating for them. And Emil Open is erasing these differences. There is no pressure for performance and results, which is also important.
What is the goal of the Games?
So that the participants would return home happy, satisfied, with new experiences. It does not matter in what time they ran one hundred metres. We are no searching talents for Paralympics either.
Paralympics is far away, but the victories do no matter here, do they?
Of course, everyone wants to win, that is the essence of sport, but in this case, we want the young disabled athletes to have a lead in their future life, and found meaning in sport. And sometimes you need to make it up to the Paralympics, even if the journey from Emil Open is long and lengthy.
Exactly. I said many times how much I respect all people involved in this event - athletes, organisers and sponsors. This event has started from the impulse of sporting clubs that Emil Foundation has supported, so the children could train. That was nice, but the children had no place to show their talent. So the circle did not close and that was a mistake. That is why Emil Open began; the coaches and athletes could exchange many experiences
Did you experience something similar when you were young?
When I was in the age of today participants, there was real socialism and we did not even dream about something like this. In each age group people have their dreams and goals and for this age group this is the best they can experience. On the platform of Paralympic Games, they can compare themselves with international competition and that is a huge motivation for them.