Playing in their second successive World
Grand Prix, the Czech Republic will be hoping to rediscover the magic touch
that carried them to the gold medal in the 2012 European League under the
leadership of coach Carlo Parisi. That victory, achieved with a 3-0 win over
Bulgaria in the final, brought back memories of the days when, playing as
Czechoslovakia, they were a force to be reckoned with. The team won a string of
medals, including gold in 1955 in the European Championship and bronzes in the
World Championships of 1952 and 1960.
Until 2012, the European Championship
bronze they claimed in 1997 was the solitary medal they had won since the
Czech/Slovak split in 1993. They finished 14th in their World Grand Prix debut
last year and will be hoping that the present generation of players can write a
new chapter in the nation’s volleyball history this year. Aneta Havlickova, who
was named MVP in that European League success, will be a key player.