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Petra Nemcova

By Sara Templeton

Petra Nemcova
The Czech Republic, formerly Czechoslovakia, has one of the most-filmed cities in big budget movies - Prague. Its amazing architecture, beautiful surrounds and amazing Maldau river make it truly a sight for sore eyes.

The Czech Republic is home to other oft-looked at things too, such as top models.

We could be even more specific and say many, many people have been 'Czeching' out a certain top model who seems to be winning the world over with her amazing smile and statuesque figure.

How has she become so popular, you may ask? Two words: Sports Illustrated.

Petra Nemcova was born in Czechoslovakia, more specifically, Karvina. The timing of her entry into this universe was June 24th, 1979, and she was born to a teacher mother and bricklayer father.

Her big break happened when a fashion scout - often the way these things happen - discovered her in in Karvina during a country-wide talent search.

Later in life she would write a book (Love Always, 2005), which described her childhood under communist rule in Czechoslovakia, and though I haven't read the book - I prefer to eat food - I'm sure it makes for a great read.

In 1999 she got her first TV gig on an American talk-back show in the vein of David Letterman. Called the "The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn" the smitten host declared his love for her and even went so far as to predict that she'd be in Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition by 2003. Not a bad guess...

In 2001, she starred in the French comedy flick, Absolument Fabuleux. If your French is up to scratch, you'll know that the title translates to Absolutely Fabulous, or maybe you just guessed? Either way, it is a 105 minute French remake of the seminal British comedy series and, while not critically acclaimed, it is said to be very similar to its precursor, providing plenty of belly laughs.

Does this mean Petra will be doing more TV and movie parts in future? Bet your car/motorbike/fixed-wing aircraft on it!

More recently, Petra Nemcova has, as mentioned earlier, starred in the 2002 Swimsuit Issue of Sports Illustrated, a magazine read by perhaps more American males than any other. Quite a scary thought, really...

Once a model has made SI, their future is almost guaranteed.

Petra then signed with Next Modeling Agency and has had lucrative contracts with the likes of Max Factor and Cartier and she has also had good coverage in Harper's Bazaar, Elle and other fashion mags that know nothing about the feeding habits of marsupials.

So popular was her Sports Illustrated debut in 2002 that the next year, 2003, she was the cover model for the magazine, upon which she pocketed a multi trillion dollar treasure chest. Her other modeling highlights include work for the famed Victoria's secret lingerie line, and in 2004 she was asked to be a judge in the 53rd annual Miss Universe competition.

She duly accepted the judging role (no doubt after Donald Trump 'persuaded' her with his stunning hair piece) and guess who won the 2004 Miss Universe competition, which was held in Quito, Ecuador? It was an Australian - Jennifer Hawkins! Awesome segue - thankyou, thankyou very much.

But while 2004 started off as a good year for the stunningly symmetrical European model, it ended in tragedy. Having fallen in love with Simon Atlee, a British fashion photographer, to whom she was engaged to be married, the two spend the end of the year in Thailand on a relaxing holiday.

As many Australians will know, a devastating tsunami struck south-east Asia, and her fiancé drowned in the ensuing surge of water that ravaged the Khao Lak resort they were staying at. "People were screaming and kids were screaming all over the place, screaming ‘help, help’. And after a few minutes you didn’t hear the kids any more," said Nemcova, when asked about the event.

"I just tried to survive and tried to keep positive. There were so many people with horrible injuries, with blood everywhere. It was like a war movie," added the Czech model.

Petra Nemcova didn't emerge unscathed, having broken her pelvis and suffering potentially life-threatening internal injuries. It has been reported that she survived the tsunami by clinging to the top of a palm tree for up to eight hours. She spent three weeks in a Thai hospital, and then another three weeks in a Czech Republic hospital, and it wasn't until the next year that she learnt of her fiancé's death.

Though it took Petra a long time to recover from her heartbreaking ordeal - with the physical pain of having smashed her pelvis, lost litres of blood, and the cutting emotional pain of having watched her lover being dragged away to his death - she showed incredible courage to return to the fold and appeared in the 2006 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

Lately, she has been spotted dating singer-songwriter James Blunt, and since the tsunami disaster that struck Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and other areas in Asia, Petra Nemcova has become increasingly active in raising money for the less fortunate. She is also regarded by all who meet as her as one of the most pleasant top models on the planet. 

She also one of the bravest. Petra Nemcova, we salute your courage.

Petra Nemcova

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