Olympic competitor Koukalová done with biathlon as she focusses on helping others with eating disorders
Celebrated biathlete Gabriela Koukalová, named sportswoman of the year last December, has thrown something of a proverbial grenade into the sport’s community with a tell-all book just published. Named Jiná or Different the book deals with a number of issues including serious eating disorders the athlete suffered.
In one interview earlier this week, said she said she knew her book would provoke a backlash but was nevertheless glad she had written it, if nothing else than to help others who have struggled with similar eating problems.
Here is what she told Radiožurnál interviewer Lucie Výborná this week:
“I didn’t expect the huge number of emails from women, girls and their parents who had met with the same problems. I am not talking about dozens but thousands of emails. The inbox is blocked because there are so many. It’s a fulltime job just to get through them.”
It was her husband, badminton player Petr Koukal who helped her finally begin tackling the problem when he discovered an x-ray of the spoon she had accidently swallowed.
How she dealt with that problem is one of the main focusses of “Different” and interviews that have followed, and the athlete was not afraid to shy away from other personal moments, including her relationship with her parents who more or less forced her into sport.
The question is now whether she aims to ever compete in biathlon again. At this point it seems unlikely but in the world of sport most athletes never say “never”. Nor has she burned all bridges. In the future should she want to return, the head of the Czech Biathlon Association Jiří Hamza told Czech Radio that the door remains open.
At the moment, though, it does not appear to be a priority: the athlete has made clear she wants to focus on helping others with eating disorders, not least in the area of sport, where the subject, she says, remains largely taboo.