Lenka Smidova on winning (and almost losing!) the Czech Republic's firstever Olympic medal in sailing


Lenka Smidova made a little bit of history recently, when she took the Czech Republic's first ever Olympic medal in sailing, a silver in the "Europe" category. Since returning from Athens, Lenka - who spends nine months of the year on the sea in various parts of the world - has been enjoying some time at home, attending numerous events celebrating her success. I spoke to the Olympic medal winner in Prague on Tuesday, and asked her if she had been confident of success ahead of the Athens Games.

Lenka Smidova, photo: CTK
"Yes, I have to say I was confident. I was afraid a little bit but I was telling everyone that there's nothing wrong about being positive and believing in yourself. So I thought that it all helped me a lot, to say that I'm capable of getting a medal in the Olympics, and if I sail really well and if I stay positive then I can get it. So it all happened and I'm very happy."

Earlier you were saying that you made mistakes but your competitors made more mistakes - aren't you just being modest?

"Yes (laughs), kind of. Sailing is about mistakes, and whoever makes the least mistakes wins the regatta and that's exactly what happened at the Olympics. I don't feel that I sailed the greatest regatta of my life, but I just sailed better than the others."

Were you satisfied with silver, or were you dissatisfied that you didn't take gold?

"No, I'm very happy with the silver medal. I thought I would have been the most happy sailor to get a bronze medal. Because I really didn't care - I wanted to get any medal that was available. So I'm happy with silver, more happy than getting bronze."

Your silver was the first ever Czech Olympic medal in sailing - was that a big thrill for you?

"Well I wasn't thinking about that, I wasn't thinking about getting the first medal in sailing. I was just concentrating on the regatta itself, and on every race itself. I just wanted to be the best in every race. And then I put it together, and the second last day I realised I was very close to getting a silver medal. It thrilled me a little bit but I tried to stay relaxed and tried to beat the others in the last race."

Now you have your medal in your handbag with you here, but I understand that you lost it on the day that you won it.

"That's true, but I didn't lose it on the day that I got it. I lost it a few days later at the closing ceremony. I was just happy to show it to everyone who wanted to see it and I was taking pictures with a lot of athletes and I kind of lost my mind a little bit and didn't pay attention to where I put it, and it must have fallen out of my pocket, I don't really know, but I found it again and I'm happy to have it now!"