Before the start of the IBU World Championships Biathlon 2021 Pokljuka, it seemed that the Swedish national team would be without head coach Johannes Lukas, who was injured after falling down a flight of stairs at the last World Cup in Anterselva and had to undergo a surgery.
But the many successes of the Swedish biathletes encouraged the German to do everything possible and join the protégés at the main competition of the season. He was not expected to join the team until the end of the season, but he did not last long on the couch: “It was not cool to follow the World Championships from home. It’s nice to see it goes so well, it is hard to sit on the couch. It feels good to stand out in the woods and scream again,” the coach told Norwegian television NRK, adding: “Actually, the plan was to stay home for four to six weeks, but I feel that I need a mental break. I should be careful and just scream and not run so much.”
Lukas joined the team at Rudno polje before the Single Mixed Relay, where Hanna Öberg and Sebastian Samuelsson took the bronze medal. Earlier, the Swedes had won three medals in the individual competitions when Martin Ponsiluoma became the World Champion in Sprint, Sebastian Samuelsson won silver in the Pursuit, and Hanna Öberg was second in the women’s Individual race. Already on the opening day of the championships, the Swedes won bronze in the Mixed Relay.
“We had not expected him to come here. Then we heard it when the ticket was booked. This is the highlight of the year and it would have been awkward if he had missed everything,” said Samuelsson for NRK. He also joked a bit about the splint worn by Johannes Lukas, which reminds his protégés of a robotic arm: “Maybe we should try to hack it, maybe you can control him in a way.”
Hanna Öberg doesn’t hide her satisfaction that the coach joined them on the track: “He means a lot to the team. I have talked to him two to three times over here, so he has been involved from a long distance.”
Communication between the coach and the team often took place at a distance even before the injury, so this was not such a novelty. “We have worked a lot online, but we have done it all year. So there was no big change. And then there will be many conversations over the phone, but it will be easier now that we are in place,” Lukas added for NRK.