Nikola Bendová has been one of the best Czech athletes for several years, even though she will only be twenty-two in November. The two-time national 200 champion was in excellent shape last year but due to the postponement of the Olympics she was unable to sell her properly. And this year, she was deprived of Tokyo by an injury. In an interview for Aktuálně.cz, the promising sprinter talks about the future prospects and popularity on Instagram.
You won the National Adult Bicentennial Championship at the age of 15. Did it reassure you to devote yourself fully to athletics?
Certainly. It was a great impulse for me, after this success many doors opened for me. It was such a wow effect. The sponsors were interested in me, they employed me at Olympus at the Sports Center of the Ministry of the Interior, I received the first payment. I was excited, I got into athletics, but I have devoted myself fully to it since childhood. I loved sports, but it never occurred to me to experience it a day.
At the time, you said that you were running in the fields and in the woods with squirrels.
(smile) It’s true. At that time, I was still half formed by my father, a former representative of the four hundred. Mom again represented in the obstacles. We went to our fields from Žebrák to Beroun to run in the fields or in the hills. I constantly include this type of training, but the fact is that already in these 15 years some girls were almost professional, while I was much more free.
In 2016 you were third at the European Under-17 Championships, but gradually you discovered how difficult it is to fight a World or European competition in a sprint. Especially against dark skinned cross-country skiers with faster fibers.
I keep listening that I should go on longer tracks. A lot of people say that at 200 years old, I could do 400 meters. I don’t want to resist, but that’s what motivates me to keep fighting in the sprint. I still hope that, for example, I will be the sprinter who makes his debut from the Czech Republic more than anyone in history.
Since last year, Bendová is the national record holder in the 150 meters. | Photo: Moneta Money Bank
You’ve been running at the highest level for a long time and you’re not even 22 years old.
Of course, it won’t be until November. I still have a lot of time, but I have enough. When I was seventeen I represented the Czech Republic at an adult event, it was amazing for me. I have a lot of experience for my age and I hope I can still sell them.
However, this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo got away from you with a thigh muscle injury. How long have you been dealing with this?
I did really well last year, and if the Olympics were like they were last year, I would definitely be there. Unfortunately it didn’t work this year, the injury was serious. Or rather treacherous in the thigh muscle. You don’t have the operation, but you can’t fully train and wait for the muscle to grow. Psychologically, I try to work all the time, because when it was the Olympics, it was terrible for me. Of course, it was full everywhere. Everyone asked me why I hadn’t run. You train your whole life and it happens.
Did you have the strength to watch the Olympics on television?
I only watched a few races, at least the athletics. I rather saw other sports, but I was mentally really athletic mentally. I tried to pretend I was okay, even though I was not at all, of course.
You can take comfort in the fact that the Paris Olympics will take place in three years and, unlike Tokyo this year, maybe even with the spectators.
People tell me to do nothing, that is one of the advantages. But again, no one knows what will happen in three years. I’ll work on it and see. It is true that I am the type of athlete who will give the best performance at a big event with a lot of spectators. I like extreme nervousness when I’m sick. I like it, Tokyo might not make me so excited about it.
You are one of the very active athletes on Instagram. You have nearly 13,000 subscribers there. Is it something that you appreciate and at the same time today you consider it almost mandatory equipment of an individual athlete?
It’s just that I mostly enjoy Instagram. It started innocently, the numbers have increased and now I can say it’s – I’m not talking about my second job – but definitely a great way to work with sponsors. If you get injured, don’t run for long, and aren’t active on social media, sponsors start to think they’re not visible. If you are active there, you can continue to promote the sponsor in some way. Whoever says Instagram is bullshit is stupid. (to laugh)
You have the advantage of appreciating it and not simply presenting yourself out of compulsion.
Sure. I love fashion, I love makeup. This is why I am very happy to work with some brands from this point of view as well. I would still buy these products anyway. (smile)
Bendová is advised by her partner Daniel Köstl, a league football player. | Photo: Moneta Money Bank
Who have you been able to work with recently?
I was very happy when the manager told me he had called Moneta Money Bank. I really appreciate the support of such a famous name, and just hope it will be a long term cooperation. In athletics, it’s really difficult to tighten everything financially, so I’m very happy.
You mentioned that you don’t want to talk about social media and working with different brands like a second job, but how important is a portion of an athlete’s income?
I get a salary from Olympus every month which is of course the main part. I make money from athletics, Instagram activities are extra income. Also, I think about cooperation, because even if it doesn’t look like it, it will take a long time.
You also like to take care of your appearance while shopping. Have you always had it?
Yes, from an early age. When I was five, I stole mascara and the like from my mom. I’ve been thinking about these things ever since I started to perceive the world in one way or another. At the races, I will be eliminated even more. We only wear one swimsuit, I try to elevate my appearance with makeup. It seems unnecessary to some, it might embarrass someone. But I don’t think so, I like to adapt and I feel good and confident. I will give even better performance.
Here is a clear parallel with your model, the Bulgarian sprinter Ivet Lalov-Collio, former European champion of the hundred. It is also always perfectly adjusted.
Absoutely. I recently met her at a training camp. I beat her three times last year, so now she greets me, she respects me. (to laugh) I like it. She is beautiful on the outside and at the same time she is also an amazing person on the inside.
You are a couple with the first division football player, defender Daniel Köstl from the Bohemians. What is the coexistence of two professional athletes and how well do you talk to each other in his sport?
Sometimes it takes a particularly long time, but we weren’t talking to each other in sports. We prefer each other. In my opinion Dan has made a big change in running over the past couple of years, I’m trying to advise him on technique to make it faster. He understands the gym a lot again, he advises me while exercising.
You like going to the Bohemians matches, so at the beginning of October you must have been delighted with your partner’s first goal in the league against Olomouc.
When I can, I go, I like the atmosphere. Also, as I was now injured, watching football gave me energy. When I see the spectators in the stands standing immersed in it, it motivates me. He scored the first league goal on our 4th birthday, so it was that much more magical. (smile) I was excited and really screamed at the goal.
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