After four years and Gabriela Koukalová’s sprint medal at the World Championships Biathlon in Hochfilzen, Czech sport celebrates a new heroine. This is 24-year-old Markéta Davidová, who surprised the competitors and won the World Champion title in the individual event of the IBU World Championships Biathlon 2021 Pokljuka.
Markéta Davidová impressed with her perfect shooting performance, as she covered all the targets in the 15-kilometer race and, despite starting in the middle of the competitiors, stayed at the top until the end. After the greatest success of her career, the young Czech could not believe what she achieved.
“It’s unbelievable. I’m still waiting to realize I finished first. What makes me the happiest is that I shot well and clean. And that it worked out for the first place. It’s something unreal, a beautiful extra bonus. I was calmer. I tried to think less about everything and more about what I can do, what I do all season and all summer. I’m really glad it worked out that way, even though I was lucky because some shots weren’t exactly central,” she said in an interview with idnes.cz.
Before the third women’s event of the Championships, she also shifted her thoughts from biathlon to studies. “I don’t have much time left for my diploma. I have to hand it in in mid-April, and I will compete until the end of March,” she said in an interview.
In sprint and pursuit races, she missed four shots each and was 44th and 32nd respectively, and in the individual competition she showed the most, so she stepped on the highest podium position. Due to safety protocols, the Championships is closed for public, so this time the medal winners are somewhat deprived of the awards ceremony in front of loud fans. She told idnes.cz: “When the Czech anthem was played, I shed a few tears. Everything turned out wonderfully. It’s a little different without people like that. But it doesn’t take away from that experience and emotions, not really.”
There was not much time to celebrate the medal, especially the girls have a busy schedule this time and less time off than men. One year ago, when Davidová won bronze in the Mixed Relay event of the World Championships, she and her national team colleague Eva Puskarčíková celebrated a medal with water. How will it be this year? “I think it will be similar. The programme is always packed, we spend a lot of time at the venue. I will be happy when I get to bed after dinner,” the Czech admitted.
Norwegian coach Egil Gjelland, who joined the Czech national team three years ago, was also impressed by his protégé’s achievement. He helped many aces to success, including Berger, Svendsen and the Boe brothers. “Markéta was phenomenal today. I was convinced that Markéta and I were going in the right direction. We have now confirmed that. I am happy. The work we did together has paid off. Earlier, when I watched Markéta in training, I saw how she wanted it. I believed she was on her way to a day like this. This is just the beginning. Wait until she has more experience. When she learns to deal with changes in weather, wind, more challenging conditions like they were over the weekend. Now she has shown the world that she can. She will show it again, for sure. She is the biathlete of the future. Justplease, don’t rush her. She is the World Champion now, let her enjoy it,” former partner of Ole Einar Bjoerendalen and Olympic winner told idnes.cz.
Gabriela Koukalová was also impressed by the successor. “It’s amazing. I remembered Hochfilzen. It’s nice to see that perhaps our generation has done a lot of work and created good conditions for those who follow us. It’s always nice to see that you have a successor and can pass the baton on. Markéta deserves this success after all the difficult races and I hope that her success will lift the rest of the team,” Koukalová told isport.cz.