What Inspired Them to Become an Olympian?
When we see athletes competing at the Olympic Games we see proud men and women pushing their limits physically and mentally in order to win medals. We see their trained bodies suffering as they cross the finish line and we discuss about their performances and results, but it would be the same as in any other event if we did not pay attention to their eyes. In both success and defeat there is something deeper lying there. It’s the long journey that brought them, each of them, from being a young kid dreaming of being on the world's biggest sports stage to that very moment.
Veronika Vitkova, the Sprint Bronze medalist for Czech Republic, was very essential, but because of that very invested in explaining the smile that could not leave her, even days after that medal. “Tt was my dream, ever since I was a kid, and I am happy that my dream is here.”
She knows that is not an easy road to the Olympic success and had doubts, especially when last season things were not going her way. However, she held on to that dream of winning an individual medal at the Games and kept working hard to get it, taking the positives from the last stage of the past season’s BMW IBU World Cup. “It was very hard, last year, but I kept believing that a medal could be possible at the Olympics. This shows that hard works pay off.”
Despite struggling to get the much dreamt result here in Pyeongchang, Kaisa Mäkäräinen has always kept this event near her heart; it is the reason she started a sports career. “When I was a junior, even in class at school we watched the Olympic Games every four years, especially ski jumping and cross country.”
“I have no memories of biathlon unfortunately,” she added smiling. “Each Games we kept count of the medals, we didn’t do this, for example with World Championships! This inspired me to participate at theOlympics one day.”
This is when it all started.. Going to my 3rd Olympics 🔜 🇰🇷 Thanks to everyone who has helped me on my way since those days until here 🙏🏼 @fischersports_nordic @johndeere #metsähallitus @fastfinland @marli_natur @leki.ski.outdoor @craftsportswear @joensuu_idassa @autokiltaoy @holmenkol @polarglobal @blizeyewear @visio4 @markkinointitoimistotovari @pihlajalinnaig @kontiolahti_biathlon @finnishbiathlonteam
For Susan Dunklee, it was a matter of family examples. Her dad, Stan Dunklee, is a two-time cross-country Olympian for the United States and was a great source of inspiration for his young daughter. “I remember when I was a kid, we had a parade in town and they asked my dad to march in front, since he was an Olympian. We made a huge Olympic flag with a blanket and I remember being so proud as we did it, that I wanted to be an Olympian too.”
She also saw the benefit of having an Olympian in the family when the journey to this goal was on its way and not just at its start. “Having a parent who had been at the Games is a great help, because you see them and it reminds you that it is something reachable.”
For German Laura Dahlmeier, the goal was clear and she fulfilled it in the very first competition here in Pyeongchang. “I’ve always had the dream to win medals at the World Championships and Olympics, it is incredible.”
As incredible as her form was during this event in South Korea, as she is approaching the women’s relay, holding of two Gold and one Bronze medal.
French flag bearer, Martin Fourcade, managed to do even better, with 3 Gold medals to his name and one competition left. These results marked his place in French sports history. “It is something incredible: I grew up watching biathlon and sport at the Olympics, so becoming the best French Olympian ever is something to be proud of. I’m part of the generation who grew up watching Ole Einar Bjoerndalen on TV. It means a lot for me to get to his level. He inspired me so much, both then and now!”
However, he was not the only one inspired by Bjoerndalen. Norway's first biathlon medalist at these Olympic Winter Games, Marte Olsbu, admitted that she grew up with him as her idol. “To be at the Olympics and win a medal is a dream from when I started biathlon: Ole was my idol when I was young and for sure I hoped I could one day win as much as him, but stepping on the podium after the sprint may not compare to his results, but felt amazing!”
Behind every athlete who competed at the Olympics there is a dream, the long term goal, and the long lasting desire to be at the Games. There is sacrifice, hard work and dedication to a passion that is hard to explain, but that will also drive the champions of tomorrow to be competing on this stage, one day. But, as of now, let them dream about it!