Wellingtons, potatoes and the 2012 Olympics

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In case you hadn’t already heard, the Olympics are on. My spies tell me that London is 2012’s host city. I say this with a slight hint of irony (isn’t every other sentence on this blog infused with it?) as I am told that the levels of excitement in anticipation of this epic event have reached levels of near hysteria back home. As I’m not a fan of hysteria, I’m glad to have missed out.

Still, there’s no avoiding the fact that the Olympics are here, even if you have emigrated to foreign shores to avoid the incessant media coverage. However, Girl in Czechland is not sporty – I spent the last year of high school hiding in the library reading Virginia Woolf during P.E. – and so it’s hard to take a passing interest in the event, even if it is being held in my home country. I most certainly didn’t think I’d bother to write a post about it, until I saw the Czech hopefuls’ uniforms.

Gasp in horror then chuckle loudly as you take a look at these:

The multicoloured cropped leggings are perhaps forgivable once you remember that many Czechs are stuck in a style time warp circa 1985, but what about the footwear? Wellies? Are you being serious? What sporting activities can be carried out in those apart from puddle splashing and – erm, wait, that’s about it. Self appointed style guru, Jakub Lohniský, author of blog Muži v česku (Men in Czechland – you see a connection?) also thinks the uniform is a sartorial disaster: “Wellingtons? For god’s sake! This year the circus won’t just be in Letná but in London too.”

It seems the style gods have decided to save the cruelest punishment for the Slovaks. Check out their get-up:

Words fail me – for once. Aren’t you Slovaks supposed to be more stylish than your Czech cousins? It’s hard to disagree with Muži v česku‘s verdict: they really do look like illiterate herdsmen rather than athletes. And how exactly are those hats supposed to help impove one’s sporting prowess? Take a look at the rest of Jakub Lohniský’s entertaining post to check out the best and worst of the other nations’ Olympic outfits.

Anyway, I’ve been teasing Czechman about the issue of the wellingtons. Czechs don’t know anything about fashion, here’s just another sad example of that fact, blah, blah, blah. However, it seems that the blue wellies have been a big hit and are fast selling out in shops back here in Czechland.

Czechs, I beg you! Listen to Ms Girlová! Wellies are not an everyday fashion item! You are only permitted to wear them on the following occasions:

a) at a musical festival where wearing them you get 10 points for cool as even Kate Moss dons a pair
b) in an urban environment when it is actually raining heavily but even then only when you’re under the age of 10
c) that’s it

Ok, enough fashion advice. Here’s a quick culture test: can any of you non-Czech readers correctly identify the reason why this athlete is nibbing a potato?

Kateřina Emmons missed out on gold, silver and bronze in the air-rifle eventbut fortunately the Czechs have something special for competitors who come in fourth: the bramborové medaile – in other words, a potato medal! So this is the land of Jára Cimnman after all. Anyway, by watching the Olympic coverage in the pub I managed to pick up a tasty new Czech expression. If I’d known that sport could be so educational, I’d have spent less time in the library and more time out on the hockey pitch. Perhaps…


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24 Responses to Wellingtons, potatoes and the 2012 Olympics

  1. Sarka

    Those wellies are just a joke. They weren’t intended to be worn during any sports activity… you know – Great Britain – known for rain not sunny weather.

    and during the opening ceremony they were a big hit 🙂

    I hope you weren’t serious when writing that part of your post 🙂

  2. girlinczechland

    Hello Sarka,

    No, no, just joking as usual. Still, it is quite funny to imagine anyone trying to run 100m in those things although they are pretty good at keeping your feet dry 🙂


  3. I took the wellies as a friendly poke in the ribs to the British for their famed bad weather. A joke like that is OK between friends, I suppose. What could we do to get them back if Cz ever wins the double edged sword of hosting the Olympics?

    As to the potato medal, I did not know that, so that’s a new gem of knowledge for me. I would have guessed that she was eating a banana but holding it sideways in order to avoid any sexual innuendo. But had that been the case, I guess she would have peeled it…

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Viktor,

      If the Czechs ever get to host the Olympics I promise I will be less of a cynic and get more into the spirit of the proceedings. I’d love to see what artwork David Cerny would come up with to commemorate such a sporting occasion in his own land – a tram doing press ups perhaps? Here’s his London effort in case you haven’t seen it already:



  4. As said in previous comments, it’s just a bit of dry humor for one of the rainiest countries in Europe. When I first saw it, it thought it was funny and the joke worked – got attention, both positive and negative, depends on the person’s sense of humor. I thought the uniforms are not made to serve any other purpose than to unify the sportsment from each country in any ceremony. To show bits of culture and with this as a joke, I think the designer got us Czechs quite right – not the best taste for fashion and making fun out of everything. 😉

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Lenka,

      Perhaps my problem is that the old ‘it rains in England’ joke is one that I don’t find funny anymore. Eek – maybe I’ve had a sense of humour bypass since arriving in Czechland!


      • Laala

        Hello, probably late, but still. ´It rains in England´is no joke. It had been raining here the whole June and July and had stopped just 2-3 days before the opening ceremony – unfortunatelly. If it kept raining couple of days more it would have been even better joke. But I still like your blog 🙂

  5. #13

    You are also allowed to wear wellies if you live in a village and go to the muddy backyards. 🙂

    • girlinczechland

      Hello there,

      Yes, looking out of the window it looks like I might indeed need to pack them for our village trip this weekend! We had planned to do some cycling and hang out in the chata (of course) but it looks like I’ll be sitting in the panelac instead – but I’m sure they’ll be plenty to eat 🙂


  6. Sandy Zuko

    This might come across as a bit of an advert for my country but what the heck. In case any czech olympic athletes or readers of this blog are going through wellington boot mania then here’s a link to the website of the world capital of wellies.


    We love boots so much we throw them as far as possible to win prizes. First prize being new shiny boots.

    We do call wellington boots something different but thats because our nations capital was named after the boots, so to avoid confusion we now call wellingtons ‘gumboots’.

    I was hoping the kiwi athletes could have worn boots as well so there could have been a ‘Welly-Off’ between us and the czechs on opening ceremony night, sadly they wimped out and wore shoes.

    Great post as always, GIC.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Sandy,

      Gumboot day, eh? That’s a new one for me. Shame it wasn’t an Olympic sport this year – given their quirky choice of footwear, perhaps the Czechs might have won that one… 😉


    • They might have. It’s one of the popular “sports” with children at summer camps, or at least those I went to. Hod holínkou…

  7. Krysa

    I woould like to point out that the trend of wearing wellies instead of normal shoes in cities came from Britain. It started here about 3 yrs ago and back then there was no sign of it in Czech. Within a year or so Czechs caught up and now it’s everywhere.

    Obviously, all I said above is by no means an apology for the disastrous outfit of Czech athletes (leggins/skirts/shorts/etc.)

    • girlinczechland

      Wellies in the city… This is fine so long as it is raining and you intend to get changed into normal footwear once you reach your destination.

      I’m a footwear Nazi it seems. Who knew? 😉


  8. Sarka

    Funny clip from an Olympic event:

    That’s how you end up when you are a parent of an Olympic contestant.


  9. Misunka

    Nicely put, Ms Girlova 😉 also, how do u like hearing all the foreign names with -ova in the end, except, of course, Katerina Emmons. Classical Czech non-sense I say…

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Misunka,

      I *love* hearing all the foreign names with the -ova ending! It tickles me so much I’m thinking of my ova-ised surname onto my British passport and all other relevant documents. Just kidding 🙂


    • The worst instance is adding it to Baltic female names that already have their own female endings…

  10. Pavel

    Gumáky jsou dobrý pro každýho, kdo má gumáky a tepláky, ten se na české vesnici neztratí.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Pavel,

      So this is the Czech sense of humour in action again! This clip made me chuckle: thanks for sharing.


    • girlinczechland

      Hello Lubo,

      Yep, I saw this article and have to confess that maybe I was a bit overcritical concerning the wellie issue. Perhaps I’ve lost my (in)famous sense of humour after all…


  11. Katka

    I´m not sure where Krysa lives but as a Czech girl living in the UK (London area) I tend to “observe” what people wear. And I haven´t seen many grown-ups in wellies in towns last year or so, only “inappropriate” shoes are fake UGG during summer. And I would also not be so sure that all Britons did take the wellies as a good joke. Luckily this is all now yesterdays news 😉

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Katka,

      It’s no coincidence that UGG sounds like ‘ugly’ in my view: those things are horrible and the fake ones are even worse. They’re definitely a style crime in my book which proves that every nation has its examples of sartorial poor taste. Still, (and do forgive me for returning to this old cliche) perhaps socks with sandals is an even bigger fashion faux pas…


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