Since the first year of Emil Open, the athletic disciplines have been directed by Mgr. Petr Kotyza. He has been involved in athletics for many years, previously as an athlete himself, now as the chairman of USC at Brno University. Working with disabled people has become an integral part of not only his professional life but also his everyday life.
Could you briefly introduce yourself?
My name is Petr Kotyza and I work as a headmaster at an elementary school in Brno Jehnice. Besides this, I am the chairman of the University Sports Club at Brno University with a focus on athletics. I started with athletics when I was little. I came to Brno, graduated from the Institute of Physical Culture at the Faculty of Education and during my studies I became an employee of the Faculty of Education and then of the Faculty of Sports Studies.
When the Faculty of Sports Studies was founded I got a job as a chairman of the University Sports Club at Brno University. As a student, I worked with mentally disabled at the association for help of the mentally disabled in Brno and with the pedro psychiatric hospital Srdíčko and I also started cooperation with the Special Olympics, with an organisation that focuses on sports for the mentally disabled.
How did you get to Emil Open?
I was responsible for the athletics representation in Brno and that is how I got into contact with Professor Válková, the director of Emil Open sports. As an athlete, I was asked to arrange the athletic competitions when the Games started. We formed a team with Emil and we have been working on the organisation of athletics since the first Emil Open.
What do you do at Emil Open? What is your role?
First, I would like to describe what we do as the University Sports Club. It is an extra-league club that competes in the highest athletic competition and we also organise competitions. For these organisations, we created a working group, very large and high quality, that measures competitions through the athletic office by athletic cameras and chip technology.
And that is how we contribute to Emil Open. We take care of the whole direction of athletic competitions in a modified specification for the disabled. We cover the entire course of the athletic competitions, i.e. which athlete, when and in what discipline he/she starts. We also handle registrations, discipline fees, referees, measurements, records of results which we then publish online, etc. And because Emil Open is a two-day competition, there is a draw in the evening and at night between each day according to the performance and ability of athletes. The next morning, when everyone wakes up, a completely new draw is prepared for the next day which ends with the medal ceremony where we also give the official results.
Is it time consuming?
I don’t know about the others but for me it’s very busy.
What is your most enjoyable experience from Emil Open?
I have many experiences with mentally disabled athletes. I myself employ Mark, a mentally disabled athlete, he even competes at Emil Open and he works for me as a janitor assistant. I meet Mark every day so we have many experiences together.For me, probably the greatest experiences are from meeting outside the competitions. I meet disabled people in normal life and they become a part of my family.
What is the most delicate situation you have been in during Emil Open?
I don’t know if the most delicate but definitely the most interesting situation happened last year when we wanted the mayor Markéta Vaňková to compete together with the athletes, preferably in the same race in a role of a tracker, someone who helps the athletes during the race. I saw some pitfalls in that, because being a tracker is really challenging - it takes time to build a relationship with a blind person. The athlete must trust the tracker as he is guided by him on a rubber band. The mayor had only two minutes before the race to get to know the athlete. In the end, we chose the 400m race. Even though the mayor is an athlete and runs regularly, she was worried that the athletes would be faster than her. It was a beautiful race, they ran to the finish line and the mayor cheered all the athletes. Whenever we meet, we both remember that.
What do you wish Emil Open in the future?
I always wish for good weather, especially for the races. If the weather does not work out, the athletes can’t enjoy it that much. And what do I wish Emil Open? Mainly to keep the enthusiasm and drive we put into it every year because the result is worth it.