Joy as Koukalová and Puskarčíková share podium in Oberhof
It was a wonderful weekend for Czech biathlon. Reigning World Cup winner Gabriela Koukalová first won the sprint at Germany’s Oberhof, before moving into first place overall in the competition with a second-place result in the pursuit on Saturday. But things got even better the following day when, in a dream finish for Czech fans, Koukalová reinforced her overall lead by coming first in the mass start event – and was joined on the podium by compatriot Eva Puskarčíková, who came third.
Koukalová, who is 27, said shared glory was all the more enjoyable – and that she hoped the Czechs could maintain their current form.
“It’s definitely something like winning the relay, when the joy is fourfold. Today when I realised how things had turned out, and how well we did… there’s nothing better. It feels like a dream. I hope we continue on this wave for as long as possible and I hope our good form hasn’t come too soon. But this is the climax of the season, and we’re doing all we can to stay in the best shape possible – not only both mentally and also physically.”
Gabriela Koukalová’s win on Sunday was her 16th in the Biathlon World Cup. It leaves her 15 points clear on this season’s leader board.
Speed skater Erbanová takes European gold in Heerenveen
It was also a great weekend for the Czech Republic’s speed skaters, with Karolina Erbanová taking gold in the European Sprint Speed Skating Championships in the Dutch city of Heerenveen. The four-event sprint category had been included in the European competition for the first time. Erbanová’s better known colleague Martina Sáblíková – a multiple Olympic winner – took silver in the European Allround Speed Skating Championships. Sáblíková was defending champion going into the event but her coach said second place was almost a miracle, given the fact she has been suffering from health problems.
Plíšková climbs to career-high fifth after Brisbane win
Not to be outdone, the Czech Republic’s female tennis players also had a very successful weekend. The country’s top player, Karolína Plíšková, won the Brisbane International in Australia after overcoming France’s Alize Cornet 6-0 6-3 in Saturday’s final. It was the 24-year-old’s seventh WTA title and sees her climb to a career-high fifth in the world rankings. Meanwhile, 20-year-old Kateřina Siniaková won her first ever WTA title. She beat Alison Riske of the US 6-3 6-4 in the final of China’s Shenzhen Open on Saturday. And last but by no means least, Andrea Hlaváčková won the doubles final in Shenzhen alongside China’s Peng Shuai.