Inspirational Sláma helps Czechs to Ice Hockey silver
Many athletes at these Games had been touched by the horrors of war. The silver medal Czech team included Miroslava Sláma, who had been interned at Theresienstadt concentration camp during the War
His incarceration came towards the end of the conflict, and lasted until the camp was liberated by Soviet Union forces on May 8, 1945. Remarkably, he was back playing top-level hockey just a few months later, a tribute to the human spirit.
Sláma had played for Charles University while a law student in Prague, before joining the well-known ČLTK club during the war. He was sent to the camp after attempting to help the mother of a friend, but returned to ČLTK after the war was over.
He was part of the Czech team that won the world championship in 1947, a tournament in which Canada did not compete. Not until the 1948 Games would the two great teams clash, with Canada taking gold medal on goal difference.
With the Soviets taking power in Czechoslovakia shortly after the Olympic Winter Games, Sláma decided to leave the country. He defected to Switzerland a few months later, while the Czech team were playing a tournament in Davos. He then spent five years as player and coach for the Swiss team, before later moving to America to work in a library.