Miloslav Mecir, Seoul 1988

Mecir: I didn’t win a Grand Slam but it’s hard to say if I would change it for anything else

It was a special feeling when I converted the match point. It was a little bit different on the podium when the national anthem started up and you begin to realise what has happened. It’s very difficult to describe.

Before my quarterfinal I had friends from other sports, like handball, cycling and athletics, who had already finished their competition and some of them came to see me with their medals. They were talking about their experiences and everyone was hungry for this information. The emotion was really high and it helped me, it was a big inspiration rather than putting more pressure on me. I was playing against an opponent [Michiel Schapers] who I knew it was possible to go through against, so I just prepared for the match as normal, but I knew it was going to be better if I won.

I remember when my friend Jozef Pribilinec, who won the 20 kilometre walk, came to the Village the day before my semifinal against Stefan Edberg with his gold medal. I got to hold his medal and we had a talk. I asked him how he felt when he arrived in the stadium for the finish of the walk and the second man wasn’t far behind him. I asked
him if he was nervous and he said he knew he had enough in hand and wouldn’t be passed. It was important to know how other people handled pressure. It helped me a lot and I found out that it was possible for me to do the same.

It was really special because normally when I came home from a tournament it was just a regular day at the airport, but now coming home with other athletes and bringing some medals too there were a lot of people, some politicians, television crews – it was really different. Even before I had left Seoul I had received a lot of congratulations from friends and then to see them at the airport too… My wife was there with my son who had been born in January that year so it was good to see him again, it was really nice.

I got a prize from the President for representing the country, the kind of special award soldiers sometimes receive. It was not only for what I did at the Olympics, but without the Olympics I would never have got it.

From my point of view it was something else from the regular tournament. I came there not like a tennis player but a sportsman. The Olympics from a young age was very special for me. It felt a little bit different. I knew I was a tennis player but with all the sportsmen around it was kind of bigger for me.

For me, the Olympics, it’s kind of a Grand Slam. All the best players have the chance to go there and compete. In my day all the matches were best of five sets so it was even more similar. I think it’s a huge, huge event, it connects the people, it connects the sportsmen and women, which builds up the value even more. Of course, I didn’t win a Grand Slam but it’s hard to say if I would change it for anything else.

For a sportsman, it’s a big honour, it makes me proud. It’s one of the nicest achievements to have in sport. I made a lot of friends and it brought me closer to some of the other sports and generally brought me a lot of experiences I’d never had before.

Source: ITF Olympic book

Leave a comment