Speed skating rink in Inzell, Germany.
Inzell (Germany)/Prague – Nineteen-year-old Lukáš Steklý took care of one of the biggest successes of Czech men's speed skating in history over the weekend. At the Junior World Championships in Inzell, he dominated the race with a mass start and thus continued the success of Karolína Erbanová, who in the past became the world champion in this age category six times. No junior has been able to achieve similar success in the past.
“I am excited, but I must humbly say that I am the same person as I was a week ago,” Steklý told ČTK. “It's great. I'm the only guy from the Czech Republic who has the title. And after eleven years, someone from us won it,” he pointed to the year 2012, when Erbanová was last successful among junior women.
Czech long-distance star Martina Sáblíková competed among the juniors at a time when the WC was held only as an all-around, and was the second best overall. Like Andrea Jirků, however, Sáblíková was able to dominate one of the tracks and win the so-called small gold medal.
Steklý succeeded in his last start at the championship, defeating Daniel Hall from Canada in the end, with whom he was on the run. “We were on the run from the third to fourth lap and we pulled it together to the finish line, where we gave each other up,” said Steklý. “It was a very interesting race that I enjoyed. I went into it not expecting anything,” he admitted.
The Czech representative won the semi-final, where he also managed to escape. “I was lucky that the rest of the peloton didn't chase me. Then I thought to myself that I will enjoy the final and see how it goes. And I admit that I was surprised that we were so lucky again and they didn't chase us right away,” said Steklý .
The success in the race with a mass start was finally a successful finishing point for the Junior World Championships, where he also succeeded in the 5000 meter race. He was sixth in a new personal best. “Which was unbelievable. But I expected to set a faster time,” he said.
Member of the Hodonín Sports Skating Club focused on starts among juniors in the current season, while last season he also started in senior SPs. “Last year I tried to qualify for the Olympics, so I had to take part in the senior races. This year, I told myself that I am a junior for the last year, so I will focus on the juniors and enjoy it. Above all, let it be fun,” smiled Steklý.
He achieved the result of his life practically in the home environment. In Zell, after he left the training group of national team coach Petr Novák three years ago, he has been preparing for a long time.
“In my life, I have not made a better decision than to end up in that group. coaches and figure out how everything will work. Once we set everything in motion, it works beautifully and I can't complain,” said Steklý, whose mother Libuša leads alongside the local coaches. “It's more complicated from the union's side, because they're not completely enthusiastic and they throw sticks under our feet a bit, but maybe now that I'm world champion, communication will be better,” he wished.
In the current season, Steklý is waiting just the international races in Calgary, where he will move at the beginning of March. “Just like last year, I would like to set some fast times there and improve my maximums again,” said the speed skater, who will move to the senior category next season. “I will start anew and try to push myself. It will be more challenging than among the juniors, but it's about trying,” he added.