Czech rider Jiri Jezek dreams of the Paralympics in Beijing, later this year. Jezek has only one leg, but what better way to prepare for the big event in August than a preparation race, competing against cyclists with two legs, in the Vuelta Ciclística Independencia Nacional (a UCI 2.2 event) in the Dominican Republic. Jezek has done so the last three years but told El CaribeCDN.com that "this year is special because there are the Paralympics in Beijing."
In Beijing, Jezek will have to face the challenge of being the double defending champion in the road race, having won the gold medal in the past two Paralympics, in 2000 in Sydney and 2004 in Athens.
Jezek's determination has caught the attention of the media and even filmmakers. TV Checa from his home country is on hand to make a movie about this determined athlete. "The movie will be called Way to victory," revealed Soña Jezkova, who is accompanying Jezek.
Jezek explained the reasons behind a movie about him. "People don't know my life. Many people only know the hotels Punta Cana and Juan Dolio, but not the Dominican country side."
As for the competition at the Vuelta Independencia, Jezek said, "Each year the bar is raised a little bit." He made clear that his training has to stay up to par with the rest of the competitors. He should know, having participated in the previous three editions.
Jezek was honored by a reception yesterday in the VIP building of the cycling federation of the Dominican Republic. His coach, Victor Zapletal, was on hand as well. The rider has made many local friends and was also welcomed by the current president of the cycling federation, Juan Luis Rodríguez.
The Czech rider is eager to hit the road. The race starts Friday with a time trial.