Czech biathlon is experiencing more sober times after a long period of great success. Several big stars have retired and especially the men’s team is under construction today. However, the head of Czech biathlon, Jiří Hamza, believes that we are on the right track to educate talent. The localities of Koukalová, Vítková, Moravec or Šlesingr are already pushed by young people.
At the recently concluded Junior World Championship in American Soldier Hollow, the Czech Republic placed 2nd among nations with four medals, three gold and one bronze. 4th, 5th, 6th, two 8th and two 13th places. Hamz’s optimism therefore has a real basis.
We have juniors, what’s next?
But the truth is, one of the hardest things in top-level sports, including biathlon, is successfully transitioning from junior to adult. And the Czech Republic, despite its best efforts, is not Norway. And never will be…
“When choosing the most talented competitors, we have completely different starting conditions from the powerhouses of skiing. “don’t have to put so much pressure on the results of the juniors, but they can work with them in peace. We have to choose five competitors out of ten. These are just different numbers,” Hamza thinks.
About biathlon environment mapping for Sports Talent of the Year we asked Jiří Hamza, president of the Czech Biathlon Association, who is also vice-president of the International Biathlon Union. One of the most experienced and also the most successful managers in Czech sport was at the beginning of the millennium during the phenomenal triumph of Brno basketball players in the Final Four of the European League and as manager of the women’s basketball team -ball in 2005, he won the national European championship. Almost simultaneously, he took part in the construction of the Vysočina Arena biathlon, to which he and his colleagues brought the Biathlon World Championships in 2013. He was elected head of the Czech Biathlon Association in 2014.
On the other hand, today almost everything is exactly measurable, and therefore it is possible to estimate very well how good they are and will be with our talents. “This year Jonas Marecek, 22, became world junior champion. The excellent shooter Ondřej Mánek (19) also has medals from previous championships. And the recent Youth Olympic Games in Finland were won by Petr Hák (18) “His mother and father are famous biathletes, Petr has great potential,” says Hamza.
Among the oldest are Jakub Kocián (21), who also has two medals at previous world junior championships, Mikoláš Karlík (22) and Jakub Štvrtecký (23). Or Tomáš Mikyska (21) is a great talent, a saint has already ridden, but he tore his cruciate ligament. They are boys who are the absolute best in the juniors, which is a prerequisite for them to be able to ride among the best in the men’s category.
Among the girls, Tereza Voborníková (21) is the biggest prospect, who has now brought home two medals from the United States. Also Tereza Jandová (21 years old), Gabriela Masaříková (19 years old) or the youngest Dominika Lejsková.
His latest and probably best result to date is gold in the sprint at the March European Youth Olympic Festival in Vuokatti, Finland.
“I won the 7.5 km sprint and took silver in the mixed relay. These Youth Olympics are my greatest achievement so far. It was already at the end of the season, I was a little tired, I didn’t put so much pressure on myself and without this pressure it might have been better”, he describes.
The lack of pressure may have been the key to a good shot. Petr Hák hit all ten targets, he also managed the sometimes problematic “bed”, and the running time was also one of the best. Only big rivals – Italians and French – finished behind him (except the Norwegians in Finland, all European countries were).
Sports Talent of the Year
List of News is looking for the Czech Republic’s greatest sports hopefuls. Watch the series Sports Talent of the Year. In collaboration with experts, we present nine extremely talented athletes who excel in tennis, floorball, biathlon, rowing, ice hockey, MMA, cycling, football and track and field.
What are his favorite disciplines? “Logically a sprint, because I will cover the most kilometers in one go. And at least the individual, where shooting errors are punished most severely. But I also like a mass race, because I am in contact and I like to sneak. The fighter is similar, ”says the Czech biathlon hopefuls.
The talented young man started, like many biathletes before him. He did not follow in the footsteps of his Olympian parents (his mother Eva is a world champion), but first competed in cross-country skiing. He turned to biathlon when he was only 15, when he decided to go to a sports high school. The parents weren’t to blame, it was his will, although of course they were happy. “Until I was 15, I was more of a runner and biathlon was secondary. Once or twice I won the national championship as a boy and I always enjoyed the classics. Now I prefer skating explains Petr, who has done biathlon in Slovakia in addition to Finland, this year in the United States at the Junior World Championships and also in Norway and Sweden, where he trained.
About the future of Czech biathlon
Now begins a very important period for the boy from Mrklov near Vrchlabí. He is moving to the junior category next season. He may already be waiting for the Junior World Championships, but it certainly won’t be easy with older opponents. “It’s quite a revolutionary category, and I will graduate in a year. A lot of people are coming to their term in this period and I’m curious how I will decide next spring,” says the Czech talent.
With his trainer Jindřich Šikola, who has previously coached Marketa Davidová or Veronika Vítková, he is expected to shoot more. “I can always run, it’s always good and I like to run cross-country skis. But with shooting, it’s tricky. Why? If I knew, I would shoot well, “he laughs and recalls that both parents had the same effect. Also, like him, they ran fast and sometimes messed him up when shooting. “The key to a good shot is the head. And of course the training, which consists of long hours spent in so-called dry shooting. Biathlon players train at home, for example – they click and shoot empty. “
And what is biathlon other than “smooth”, as we say in cross-country skiing? “You can’t go full speed in biathlon. Picking a pace is the alpha and omega for us.”
Even before starting to fully train, he now has a freer period after a long and demanding season, where he also catches up with school. Otherwise, he’s still running, adding a light gym, and already looking forward to cycling. At the beginning of June, he will begin roller skiing.
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