Getting to know ... Jakub Borgula

Jakub Borgula managed to win four medals at the IBU Youth Championships in the last two years. He is an up-and-coming athlete in the Slovakian team. And this even though his start in the biathlon was anything but happy.

Tennis was his sport. But that all changed when 10-year-old Jakub Borgula saw Anastasiya Kuzmina become Olympic champion in the sport at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. "Anastasiya's success made me want to try biathlon. I had never been on cross-country skis before. I only knew downhill skiing," explains the 19-year-old. Although Jakub Borgula grew up in the Slovakian town of Banska Bystrica, which is famous for biathlon in Slovakia, he only discovered the sport late in life, partly because his parents had no contact with biathlon.

Difficult start

Even though he was motivated by the success of his compatriot Anastasiya Kuzmina, biathlon was not something that won Jakub Borgula over at first. "I didn't enjoy it at all in the first few years. I was already thinking about hanging up my rifle." That only changed when he got older and went to high school. "We switched from air rifles to the small caliber. This move came at exactly the right time for me. From then on, I enjoyed biathlon much more and I had more motivation in training," says Jakub Borgula.

First successes early on

At the age of 19, Jakub Borgula already has a few successes to his name. He won the gold medal in the pursuit at the 2022 IBU Youth World Championships in Soldier Hollow. He came second in sprint and individual. This trip to America will not only be remembered for his success. It was Jakub Borgula's first trip outside of Europe. "What I really like about biathlon is that I can get to know so many new places and people. America was a completely new experience for me. I brought some of the American sweets home with me." In 2023, he was once again at the top of the Youth World Championships. In Shchuchinsk, Kazakhstan, he won the individual over 12.5 kilometers. This season, he won the sprint at Pokljuka in the IBU Junior Cup and secured third place in the sprint in Jakuszyce.

Taking the next step

In the next few years, Jakub Borgula wants to follow his friend Damian Cesnek into the World Cup. "He's my best friend on the biathlon circuit. We often play video games together and can talk about anything." In general, he gets on very well with all his teammates. In his view, this is also a key to his success. Jakub Borgula's role model is the Austrian Simon Eder. "I find it remarkable how many years he has been competing in the World Cup. I ran a race against him myself last summer and, despite being 40 years old, he was better than me." And then there are the Olympic Games. Jakub Borgula wants to be there in 2026. And perhaps, like Anastasiya Kuzmina, encourage other young people from Slovakia to take up biathlon.

Photos: IBU I Koksarov, Authamayou

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