Czech biathletes awarded Olympic bronze – for 2014 Games

Gabriela Soukalová, Veronika Vítková, Jitka Landová and Eva Puskarčíková received their medals after Russian competitors were disqualified for doping.

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 05.03.2023 09:48:00 (updated on 06.03.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Nine years after the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, the Czech Republic can officially add another medal to its tally. Biathletes Gabriela Soukalová, Veronika Vítková, Jitka Landová and Eva Puskarčíková were awarded bronze medals for the 2014 Games yesterday during a ceremony at the Biathlon World Cup in Nové Město na Moravě.

The four Czechs originally finished fourth in the women's relay biathlon at the 2014 Winter Olympics, behind Ukraine, Russia, and Norway. But more than three years later, Russia's athletes were stripped of their medals for doping violations.

After an appeals process, the Olympic Committee began redistributing the medals last year. Norway was elevated from bronze to silver, and the Czech team moved up from fourth to bronze, officially receiving their medals yesterday.

Vítková and Koukalová had won silver medals in the mixed relay biathlon in 2014, but the medals received yesterday were the very first for Puskarčíková and Landová in their Olympic careers.

The four women appeared before a sold-out crowd at the Biathlon World Cup events in Nové Město na Moravě yesterday, and were presented the medals during a short ceremony. As replays of their race played out on the screen at Vysočina Arena to great applause from the crowd, they began to tear up on the stage.

"Of course, the memories came back to life and it was nice. You certainly couldn't have chosen a better place for the medal presentation," said Vítková, who is currently expecting her second child.

"When I saw Veronika reaching the finish line during the flashbacks, I had goosebumps. Getting that medal around my neck made me weak in the legs," said Landová. "I didn't cry, but I'll probably cry in a few days. I have such delayed reactions. Even if it's possible it didn't look like it, I really appreciate it and I'm excited."

The four women saw each other for the first time since 2016 yesterday in Nové Město na Moravě. Along with the medals, they'll also receive a financial award of CZK 900,000 from the Olympic Committee.

"The presence of my family and those closest to me did its job. As soon as I saw Eva trying to hold back a tear, I had a chain reaction," Soukalová told reporters after the ceremony. She added that she would sell her Olympic medal and donate the proceeds to charity.

"I thought for a long time about what I would do with the bronze medal, and after a certain period of time I came to the conclusion that I would like to sell it and donate the proceeds to charity. So that it doesn't just stay with me, but has some leverage in that it can help someone else."

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