Presentation of bronze Olympic medals from the 4×6 kilometer relay from the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi 2014, March 4, 2023 Nové Město na Moravě, Žďársko. Relay members Eva Puskarčíková, Gabriela Soukalová, Jitka Landová and Veronika Vítková.
Nové Město na Moravě (Žďársko) – Although more than nine years have passed since their relay race at the Olympic Games in Sochi, former Czech biathletes Gabriela Soukalová, Veronika Vítková, Jitka Landová and Eva Puskarčíková could not help but be moved during today's additional bronze medal ceremony. During the applause of the sold-out Vysočina Arena and the replay of the race on the full screen, there were even tears. In front of the journalists, they appreciated that they could get together again after a long time.
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“The presence of the family and those closest to me did its job. As soon as I saw Evička trying to hold back a tear, I had such a chain reaction,” said Soukalová. “I'm already looking forward to the photos, when they will probably show beautiful pictures of how my face is deformed, and my teeth stick out so strangely. That will certainly be very interesting for a lot of people,” she said amusedly.
The Czech women's representatives fourth place in Sochi when Ukraine won. Originally the second Russians were later disqualified due to doping. The Norwegians moved to the second position instead.
“I did not expect at all that it would overwhelm me to the point of tears. But here with those people it was something unreal,” declared Puskarčíková. “The footage already got us started, and when I saw the fans, it was a massacre. We wouldn't have something like that in Sochi, and we're very happy that we could get it here. It completely made up for those experiences,” she added.
< p>When the video was shown, the stands most applauded the footage of Vítková's last shooting and her arrival at the finish line. The organizers played the biathletes and the Olympic anthem. place,” said Vítková, who arrived in Nové Město in Moravia expecting a second child.
While Vítková and Koukalová still won silver in the mixed relays in Sochi, for Puskarčíková and Landová it was the only Olympic medal in their career. “When I saw Verča reaching the finish line during the flashbacks, I had goosebumps. Getting that medal around my neck really broke my legs. I didn't cry, but I'll probably cry in a few days. I have such delayed reactions. Even if it's possible it didn't look like it, I really appreciate it and I'm excited,” described Landová.
Puskarčíková promised that she would show the medal to her family and relatives and then build a special cabinet for her. “But she's quite heavy. I'm getting stronger. She's about a kilogram,” she said.
All four contestants saw each other for the first time since 2016. They also slapped and hugged each other during the ceremony. “I noticed it also because the four of us met after a long time,” said Vítková.
“I always had the greatest joy from the relays, and it was wonderful to slap the girls again after all these years. You experience it completely differently, because you know you won't experience it again. So that moment was all the more precious for me,” added Soukalová, who she stated that she would sell the medal and donate the proceeds to charity.
“I can definitely say that there was at least partial satisfaction. I am very happy that we can receive the medal right here in Nové Město in Moravia. I can't to present a better opportunity in which we could take it over in a different way. It's beautiful for us. I don't know about the girls, but for me it's a top campus and the heart of my entire career,” said Soukalová.
The medals were handed over to the biathletes by the vice-chairman of the Czech Olympic Committee for international relations, Roman Kumpošt, and the president of the Czech Biathlon Union, Jiří Hamza. The chairman of the WWTP, Jiří Kejval, could not participate due to health reasons. Female biathletes gathered together like this for the first time since 2016.
“It's true that I've been so upset and angry for the past few years. You keep thinking what would have happened if and what we've lost. But I'm very happy and I appreciate that the WWTP and the union are doing this for us. There may be our family. After nine years, however, those euphoric states can no longer be imitated,” said Landová.
The Czech women's national team took fourth place in Sochi with Ukraine's victory. Originally the second Russians were later disqualified due to doping. The Norwegians moved to the second position instead of them. “I have to say that I don't remember much of that race anymore. It's just that I was a finisher for the first time, finished fourth and at least waved at the finish line,” said Vítková, who arrived in Nové Město na Morava expecting her second child.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to disqualify the Russians in November 2017 due to the doping of Jana Romanova and Olga Viluchina. They appealed the disqualification and lifetime ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, which ruled in their favor in September 2020. However, another accused member of the relay, Olga Zajcevová, was unsuccessful in her appeal, so the IOC definitively confirmed the change in order last May.
“More than the race in Sochi, I have intense memories of the bronze medal from the World Championships in Anterselva 2020. But I am very happy how everyone fought for it and were able to agree to hand it over to us here with the spectators. We were able to enjoy it together and it was not the dry handover,” said Puskarčíková. “In Sochi, there were some schools that had to go there to cheer. Cold fans who had to cheer for everyone. But here they really cheer for us and here we are at home. Maybe it's even better,” she added.
During the ceremony they were members of the implementation team who contributed to the success in Sochi were also awarded. In addition to Hamza, there were coaches Ondřej Rybář, Jindřich Šikola, Marek Lejsk, Tomáš Holubec, servicemen Daniel Müller, Martin Janousek, Vojtěch Prášil. Physiotherapist Roman Karpíšek, masseuse Irena Česneková, doctor Vladimír Dobeš, Pavel Levora and Jan Matouš also worked in the background. The then president of the Czech Biathlon, Václav Fiřtík, died unexpectedly in March 2014 after a vascular accident.
In addition to the medals, everyone will also receive financial rewards. The WWTP will pay 900,000 crowns to the members of the relay and 200,000 crowns to the implementation team.