Decathlete Returns as Representative of Czech Republic
By Lee Hyo-won
Exploring the charms of the host country is one of the perks of the Mr World contest, and visiting Korea is particularly special for one of the 74 candidates.
Josef Karas, representing the Czech Republic in the race to become ``the world’s most desirable man,’’ was here seven years ago for a different battle.
He spent three weeks in Daegu as a national decathlete for the 2003 Summer Universiade. He was competing in the high jump when he suffered a foot injury. The pain and loneliness he felt at the time was immense, but he said he was touched by the warm support of the Korean people.
He was spotted taking pictures during the Mr World opening reception, Friday in Incheon. ``I am very happy to return to Korea,’’ he was quoted as saying in an interview with The Hankook Ilbo, sister paper of The Korea Times.
The Hankook Ilbo-The Korea Times Media Group is co-organizing the 2010 edition of the competition with the Miss World Organization.
Karas began participating in sports activities at the age of five and became a two-time national champion in the men’s decathlon back home, in 2005 and 2006. He also represented the Czech Republic at the 2007 World Championship.
The 31-year-old had to retire last year, however, due to a spinal injury, and currently runs a sports academy. He helps athletes improve their skills through careful training and counseling.
The Mr World opportunity came by chance. Karas’ father learned about the Mr Czech Republic contest and encouraged him to participate two days prior to the deadline. He said he hesitated because he was ``over 30 and slightly older,’’ but decided to give it a try once he heard that winners would have the chance to travel to Korea.
``I was lucky, and I also had the chance to come to Korea,’’ he said, about being named the Czech Republic’s alpha male.
As for being ``slightly older’’ than other contestants, whose age range spans from 18 to 32, he pointed out that it is actually an advantage. ``I have traveled to many places around the world and I also read a lot of books, so I think my experience is my strength,’’ he said. ``I will try my best to represent the Czech Republic.’’
The Mr World Final will take place on March 27 at Songdo ConvensiA, Incheon. The event will be broadcast to an expected 1 billion viewers in 140 countries.