At the tender age of 18, Martina Sablikova participated in her first Olympic Games in Turin, in 2006. Although the speed skater was not yet known to the general public, her opponents knew they had to watch out for this young ice virtuoso. She had already broken junior world records and won her first medals at the European championships. At the Games Opening Ceremony, she was the flag-bearer for the Czech Republic delegation, in recognition of her talent and the great hope placed in her.
Martina Sablikova is a long-distance (3,000 and 5,000m) specialist. In the first event, she was the youngest competitor taking part. This did not stop her from matching the best. By a few tenths of a second, she was beaten into fourth place in the 5,000m, behind the grandes dames of the discipline, who were 8-to-12 years older than she was. Her 3,000-metre race ended in a respectable seventh place. Not a medal, but Martina Sablikova continued to make progress during the four years separating Turin from Vancouver. She thus won herself six world titles, including three consecutive ones in the 5,000m, in which she is the world record-holder. This time, she was the favourite in the 2010 Games endurance events.
Her Games started with the 3,000m. Over this distance, the Czech was unbeatable. With more than two seconds separating her from the next skater, she easily won the event, as well as her first gold medal, which was also the first one for her country in this discipline. One week later, Martina Sablikova competed in the 1,500m, and, despite this not being her favourite event, produced an exceptional performance. Free of all pressure, she excelled herself, winning the bronze medal. With two medals around her neck, the Games were already a success, but the skater from Nové Město na Moravě wanted even more!
The longest distance in the women’s competition is her domain, and the event in which she has been the most successful throughout her career. As world number one, she had the privilege of starting in the last pair and knowing the times of her main opponents. She quickly sprang into action, and, as early as the second lap, was leading all the other competitors. But there was no question of letting up; she had only a tiny lead over Stéphanie Beckert, her most feared opponent in the 3,000m. The German finished her race very well, and Martina had to fight to remain ahead. When she crossed the finish line, she still had almost a half-second lead. She was Olympic champion!
With three medals, including two golds, Martina Sablikova’s Games were a great success. She could appear again on the Olympic stage early than imagined, as she is also an excellent cyclist, and, in 2010, won the two Czech Republic women’s championship titles. So, Martina, shall we see you at the Summer Games?