Martina Sáblíková secures second Olympic medal for Czech Republic

Martina Sáblíková

Martina Sáblíková has secured another medal for the Czech Republic at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. On Thursday, the Czech speed skating sensation won the bronze in the women’s 5,000 meter race. It is already the seventh Olympic medal for Sáblíková from four consecutive Winter Games.

Martina Sáblíková’s path to her seventh Olympic medal was not an easy one. In January, the 34-year-old athlete injured her leg during training and had to skip the European Speedskating Championship.

She also wasn’t very lucky in the draw, being assigned one of the weaker opponents, Japan’s Misaki Oshigiri, which meant she had to rely entirely on herself on the track.
This is what she told Czech Radio immediately after the race:

Martina Sáblíková | Photo: Roman Vondrouš,  ČTK

“I knew that the time 6:50 was enough for a medal based on the training results. But planning is one thing, and sticking with the plan can be quite different. I didn't know what the ice would be like. But I have to say I felt pretty good during the race.”

In the end, Sáblíková crossed the finish line in a time of 6:50.09 and had to wait to see how her four main rivals would perform. She was overtaken by Canada's Isabelle Weidemann and in the last heat, also by the Dutch gold medallist Irene Schouten.

But after finishing just below the podium in the 3,000 meters race last week, the veteran speed skater couldn’t be happier to clinch the bronze medal in her favourite event.

“This medal means a lot to me, as do all the Olympic medals, but after this season of problems I think it will take me a while to realize what I accomplished today. I didn’t believe I could reach a medal position after yesterday’s draw.

“So I have to thank everyone who gave me strength. Everyone cheered me on so much and I received so much support, and that’s what gave me strength and courage.”

Isabelle Weidemann,  Irene Schouten,  Martina Sáblíková | Photo: Roman Vondrouš,  ČTK

Martina Sáblíková first entered the history books back in 2010 in Vancouver, when she became the first Czech ever to take two gold medals at one Winter Olympics.

Now, she has another record to her name, becoming the most successful Czech athlete in the number of medals from the Olympic Games. Until the Beijing Olympics, she shared first place with cross-country skier Kateřina Neumannová.

The 5,000 metres race has always been Sáblíková’s strongest discipline. During her long career, she has won two Olympic gold medals on the track and ten world titles.

The Czech Republic currently has two medals at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games, with Ledecká winning gold in the women's snowboard parallel giant slalom on Tuesday.