Illustration photo – Speed skater Martina Sáblíková.
Heerenveen (Netherlands) – The last race of the season, in which she will try to expand her rich collection of medals, awaits long-distance star Martina Sáblíková on Sunday at the World Speed Skating Championships. On Thursday, she won bronze in the triple, in the last race of the championship she will be among the favorites for 5000 meters. She can consider the longest women's track to be her domain, she became a ten-time world champion on the five and won one silver medal. No woman or man can boast of such success.
“It will be a terrible hell, there will be a lot of girls who know how to high five and it will depend on the lot. How who will feel. It is open and I certainly do not dare to say that I should fight for the pancake again. It will be a massacre like on Thursday. It will it depends on who can last until the finish line. He can have a cake,” said Sáblíková to ČTK and Czech Radio.
The main favorite is the current winner of the World Cup and the gold medalist in the triple in Heerenveen Ragne Wiklundová from Norway, medal ambitions so does last year's Olympic champion Irene Schoutenová from the Netherlands and another domestic representative, Sanne in't Hofová, who is only focusing on five at the World Championships. In December in Calgary, the Canadian Ivania Blondinová also did well on this track.
After Sáblíková and Schoutenová, Wiklundová can become the next speed skater to dominate the two longest women's tracks at the top event. Sáblíková did it five times at the World Cup and once at the Olympics, Schoulte at the Beijing Games last year. “It's true that after the first successful race, one somehow calms down, one's goals are fulfilled in the season and it turns out that the training was meaningful and led to the end to which it was supposed to come. On the other hand, I remember that when we were here in bubble (due to the coronavirus), so I didn't succeed in the fifth after the three. The race is different every time,” noted Sáblíková.
In addition, the three-time Olympic champion is always nervous before big races. “You think you won't be nervous anymore, but still, when you come to the hall, it's not possible. Two hours before the start of the triple, I thought to myself at the hotel that it was unbelievable. How many times have I stood there, how many times have I experienced it and still I go there as nervous as a pig… People get stressed and want to prove that they belong there. And in this hall, it's about something else,” smiled Sáblíková, who at the same time always looks forward to the atmosphere in Heerenveen's Thialf hall.
This year's championship is specific in that there are two days off between the 3000 and 5000 meter races. Sáblíková et al. they were used to the fact that the second start awaited them on Saturday. “But after the World Cup, there is no longer a World Cup final, as it used to be, it ends completely on Sunday. So now it's more like waiting for the top five. In addition, you already have in your head that you're going home and it's over,” said the coach's confidante Petr Novák.
Perhaps that is why he is not thinking about the top five yet and is rather trying to enjoy Thursday's success and winning the 31st medal at the world championships. “When do I start thinking about her? It's always different. Sometimes it pops into my head every moment, other times it doesn't come until the day I race. It depends a lot on my mood. Sometimes, for example, I don't want to know the start list before dinner, other times before going to bed, to get a good night's sleep. It depends on how well I'm doing or not, what my mood is,” she explained.
The current season is specific for Sáblíková, she has completed only one top five so far. She was fifth in mid-December in Calgary, when she had to start a week after an injury when she cut her leg in a fall during training. But if she hadn't gone to Canada, she wouldn't have qualified for the WC.
“And I suffered a lot,” she returned two and a half months later. “Previously, there were two fives in the sveták, not just one. Then there was Europe, a quadruple, sometimes I rode a five at the beginning of the season in Inzell. Now I have one behind me, from which we didn't have the feeling I should have. I myself am so I'm curious how it will go on Sunday,” noted Sáblíková.