Stepanka Hilgertova is a former Czechoslovak-Czech slalom canoeist. She is a leading athlete who has competed in six Summer Olympics.
Stepanka represented Czechoslovakia at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. Following that, the slalom racer represented the Czech Republic five times in a row, from Atlanta in 1996 to London in 2012.
Moreover, Stepanka won gold at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
Stepanka loves being in the water. The feeling of being close to nature and meeting many people from all around the world are her driving forces.
In her long career with the river, Stepanka broke a lot of boats, experienced moments of fear, and got to know her husband by the water. And she became one of the leading slalom skiers.
In this article, we have summed up everything that you need to know about the Czechoslovak-Czech slalom canoeist. But before that, have a look at some quick facts about her.
|April 10, 1968
|Yoga, Dancing, Reading
Charles University, Prague
|55 years old
|1.65 m (165 cm)
|Lubos Hilgert (her coach as well)
|Canoeist, Sports instructor, Hiko team manager
|Senior Debut Country
|Senior Debut Year
|Son (Lubos Jr. Hilgert)
Stepanka Hilgertova: Early Life and Family
On April 10, 1968, the Proseks’ daughter Stepanka was born in Prague, Podolí. Podolí is a district in Prague which is located south of the city center.
To those who do not know about Prague, it is very close to the river Vltava. Stepanka was born in the Podolská maternity hospital, which stands on the Vltava embankment, just below the Vyšehrad walls.
Hence, Stepanka was very close to the water right from her birth. She was an adventurous kid and showed a keen interest in sports.
As a young child, the olympian started gymnastics. No wonder she still loves yoga and gymnastics to date!
Further, Stepanka’s mother was a ski champion. Her mother won four gold medals at the first World Ski Championships for physically and visually impaired athletes in Grand Bornand.
As a result, inherited her passion for skiing from her mother. In the winter, she started devoting herself to downhill skiing.
Born and raised on the riverbank, Stepanka always enjoyed being near the water.
How did Stepanka Hilgertova Start Kayaking?
A kayak on the water, a ship that will be the destiny of her life, saw Stepanka for the first time when she was only twelve years old.
The start of Stepanka’s kayaking journey was purely coincidental. One day, Stepanka’s mother met Renata Knyova. Renata, a kayaker, was an old friend of Stepanka’s mother.
During the conversation with her old friend, Renata asked Stepanka’s mother about Stepanka. The kayaker inquired if Stepanka was interested in sports and asked her to bring Stepanka to the shipyard.
Stepanka recalls that her mother came home and asked her out of nowhere if Stepanksa would like to ride on the water.
At that time, Stepanka had never thought about kayaking. She couldn’t imagine anything other than a rowboat on the Vltava.
Following that, she started training in the spring of 1980 in the team of young kayakers at TSM Tesla Žižkov.
She quickly got hold of it and grew passionate about the sport. In 1981, she won the first medal at the championships of Czechoslovak pupils in patrols.
Following the win, unfortunately, Stepanka suffered from jaundice and had to exclude herself from sports activities for a year.
However, in 1983, she made a comeback as the champion of the Czechoslovak junior youth. She also soon advanced to the national adult races and was included in the junior national team.
Stepanka Hilgertova: Personal Life
The Olympian is married to Lubos Hilgertova. Lubos is a loving husband and also a coach to Stepanka.
She fell in love with Lubos and the two exchanged marriage vows very early in life.
Before marriage, the young couple used to meet on the riverside almost every day. The river witnessed their first joint training and love meetings.
Both of them shared the same passion. Their common goals and interests brought them even closer. At the time when Stepanka got married to Lubos, she was madly in love and pregnant.
Stepanka gave birth to a son in winter, exactly seven days before Christmas. The kayakers were busy training for the World Cup in Bourg St. Maurice. However, Stepanka dropped out of the game to take care of her son, Jr. Lubos.
Women’s water slalom was not very high in Czechoslovakia at that time. However, Stepanka breastfed Lubos for almost a year and continued her passion.
Although she went into the season without preparation, it was a surprise how well she was doing.
Additionally, her return to kayak was a great motivation for young women. She served as an example that one can ride and compete even after childbirth.
First Olympic Gold
The athlete bagged her first success in the 1996 Summer Olympics. The slalom event of the Olympics took place at Ocoee Whitewater Center near Ducktown, Tennessee.
The Ocoee is an old Indian river in the wooded valley of the US state of Tennessee. Apart from being beautiful and wide, the river also has big waves and is a perfect place to canoe.
However, it is challenging. In Ocoee, there is no place for chance. It’s like a sieve that only masters can go through.
In 1996, her life changed on the Ocoee River. She made it to the Olympic gold medal and gained her first great success, and with it came all the fame and recognition.
On Saturday, July 27, 1996, exactly five minutes after three o’clock in the afternoon, she finally reached the vortices and rapids of the Ocoee River in the American Cherokee Nature Reserve on the very border of Tennessee.
In the Olympic kayaker race, she finished with gold. Moreover, after a long 28 years from Mexico 1968, she became the first woman in whose honor the Czech national anthem was played at the Olympics.
“During the anthem, I experienced similar feelings of happiness as when a healthy son was born to me after the Chernobyl explosion,” said the Olympic champion Stepanka.
Second Olympics Gold
The Summer Olympics of 2000 was held in Sydney, Australia. Stepanka once again was participating in the Olympics, representing her home country, the Czech Republic.
She was incredibly calm and determined to perform her best and take the gold home. Additionally, when Stepanka finished her first ride in the foamy water, the onlookers got an impression of her as someone who could hardly be defeated by anyone.
Thus, on the third day of the last Olympic Games of 2000, the Czech canoe racer danced between the gates of an artificial canal in Penrith near Sydney.
Stepanka completed the extremely difficult track without a single mistake or hesitation. Hence, she managed to defend the gold medal for the second time at the Olympic Games.
The Czech Republic was proud of her. Moreover, she was the fourth Czech athlete in the entire long history of the sport to bag the gold medal twice.
As Stepanka stood there representing her country and receiving the gold medal for the second time, she had a smile on her face. Moreover, her face radiated joy and satisfaction.
Stepanka Hilgertova: Age, Body Measurements and More
The Slalom racer, Stepanka, was born in the year 1968. She was born in the Monkey year, as per the Chinese calendar. Monkey year is the ninth year of the 12-year cycle of animals of the Chinese zodiac.
Talking about Stepanka’s physique, she has a perfectly flexible body. She maintains his body with daily exercise, yoga, gymnastics, and healthy nutrition.
Moreover, she weighs about 56 kg and stands 1.65 meters in height. The 55 year-old looks gorgeous with her blonde hair and blue eyes. His nationality is Czechoslovak.
Further, her zodiac is Aries. Sapiens with the Aries sign are creative, passionate, hardworking, and energetic.
They are also determined, incredibly attractive, and charismatic. Stepaka is no different.
Stepanka Hilgertova: Net Worth
Following her retirement at the age of 49, she currently works in an office and lives a happy and healthy life with her husband and son.
Although Stepanka’s exact net worth is not known, we can say that the slalom racer has earned enough to live a life of luxury. However, rather than a luxurious lifestyle, the Olympian is seen to promote a healthy lifestyle.
She also works with various charity foundations in her home country. Further, she is known for giving out donations and carrying out other philanthropic works.
Social Media Presence
Her Facebook page has approximately 1.4K people following her. Likewise, around 600 people follow the athlete on Twitter.
More than Twitter, Stepanka is active on her Facebook handle. She regularly shares content related to her personal and professional life on Facebook.
Her Facebook bio mentions “něco málo ze života vodní slalomářky :-)” which translates to “a little bit of the life of a water slalom racer :-).”
Does Stepanka have any superstitious beliefs?
Stepanka is not a very superstitious person. However, she believes that breathing deeply increases concentration level. It can properly be understood as a ritual that she usually practices rather than a superstitious belief.
What are Stepanka Hilgertova’s most memorable achievements?
Stepanka’s most memorable achievement is her first Olympic gold in Atlanta in 1996. The gold fueled her with confidence and she started to believe in herself.
Likewise, carrying the national flag during the Opening ceremony in Bejing 2008 and participating in London Olympics were also very memorable to her.
Who is Stepanka Hilgertova’s most influential person?
Among many people that Stepanks encountered in her journey of life, her first coach Renata Knýová has left a deep imprint in her heart. Renata is a kayaker from the sixties.