Some moments define a lifetime. In sport, this means successes, unexpected medals, or record-breaking victories. Marketa Davidova gave the Czech Republic a biathlon gold medal at the IBU World Championships of Pokljuka, the first one since Gabriela Koukalova retired. Davidova accepted it with the same light-hearted spirit that characterises her love for biathlon. So now, even with an Olympic season coming up and the Summer Biathlon World Championships taking place on home soil in Nove Mesto na Morave, Davidova feels like nothing has changed. She is facing the preparation just like any time before.
IBU Biathlon Summer World Championships return to NMNM
The last time the Summer Biathlon World Championships took place in the famous venue of Moravia, was just three years ago, yet, many things have changed for Davidova since then. In 2018, she took a silver and a bronze in the junior competitions. A few months later she won her first podium in the World Cup tour, then came her first BMW IBU World Cup victory. The rest is history.
This summer, the athlete from Jablonec nad Nisou, will return as the most recognisable face of biathlon in her country, but she is feeling no pressure.
“I think that everything is the same as before the medal in Pokljuka”, she smiled. “I do not feel any different. But I hope that we can enjoy the NMNM atmosphere with fans a little bit more this summer”.
Davidova has indeed been missing the roar of adoring fans on most of her big days, notably in Pokljuka for her gold in the individual, and in Nove Mesto upon her return from Slovenia. However, the memories of those well-attended summer competitions from 2018 are still with her, also because it was the last time she raced in the juniors, and it was not without expectations.
“That year, I was already training with the A team so it was just these races in the junior category,” she explained the reasons for that choice. “Because the A team was strong, so coaches wanted to also have someone in the junior category as we were competing at home… I think they wanted some medals!”
World Champion, the same person
“If I changed, I hope not so much in a wrong way… I am older, so I should be smarter?”, joked Davidova when talking about how much of a different person she feels compared to the promising junior that competed at those Summer World Championships. Her contagious smile and easy-going manners for sure have not changed, even after the biggest success of her career so far last winter.
“I still feel the same," Davidova said. Then she made a pause and admitted with a smirk: “sometimes when I am going through old photos it feels really good… and also when I hear the Czech national anthem, I get so emotional as the memories return… but in the day-to-day life it is the same as before!”
One of the reasons for this attitude is to be found in her interests, which are much broader than just biathlon.
Davidova in non-sports clothes
It does not take a private detective to see that the Czech has a multitude of interests and her free time is often spent away from rifle and skis. On her Instagram profile, one can read "horses first, rest later" and in the middle of his hot summer, she has completed her master’s degree at the Faculty of Agrobiology, Food, and Natural Resources at the Czech University of Life Sciences of Prague.
“It is so important for me to have other passions,” she explained. “I am not the person who thinks only about biathlon 24/7, but maybe that is not so hard to recognise! I need to think about other things to be calm and then enjoy sport”.
Even if she finds that sports and an academic career are beneficial one to the other and somehow complementary in her case, she feels like they cannot be compared.
“The school provided me with great conditions to master both top sport and study. Both need their time, and nothing is without effort. I had more stress from exams at school, but otherwise, I don’t want to compare school and sports, that’s something else entirely different”.
So, when she puts down the rifle and changes her outfit to more “civilian” clothes, she manages to hide in the crowd and somehow comes across as any other person of her age.
“When I have sports clothes, people recognise me more regularly. When I am dressed casually, then it doesn't happen so often," she joked. “And teachers not so much. They are focused on animals, so they are not so interested in sport!”
Summer Training and Olympics
Even if her life does not revolve solely around biathlon, the coming winter will feature one of the most important global events as Beijing will host the Olympic Winter Games. En-route to what would be her second Olympics, Davidova is training hard with a team that feels as united as ever.
“We did not change many things (just because of the Olympics), so the training is almost the same as in the years before”, she reflected. “And in my head, it is just another year”.
What helps her staying so cool about it is the fact that in PyeongChang 2018 she could compete without any pressure.
“It was cool: I was there to sense the atmosphere of the Olympics, and ended up racing in every competition. I was really surprised. But maybe this was the key, I was there only to enjoy the atmosphere and I did it. So, I think this year it will be harder to stay calm, but, in the end, it is only normal races, isn’t that so?”
With this positive and charming attitude, Davidova will try to keep surprising herself and the world, possibly adding another emotional memory whenever she will be hearing her national anthem. But in the end, would that even be a surprise?
Photo: C. Manzoni/IBU & Marketa Davidova personal archive