Vancouver Queen Sablikova won't abdicate

Thu Jan 9, 2014 12:23pm EST
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By Patrick Johnston

(Reuters) - Martina Sablikova was dubbed the 'Queen of Skating' after her double gold medal success at the Vancouver Games four years ago and the Czech speed skater has no plans to abdicate her throne in Sochi.

Sablikova, 26, was given the moniker by then International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge after she won the 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters titles at the Richmond Olympic Oval in Canada.

The slightly-built Czech also took bronze in the 1,500 meters in Vancouver with her fluid, gliding style and acceleration in the corners helping her overcome a cold and fatigue to become the competition's leading racer.

"Vancouver was for me incredible. It was like fairy-tale story," Sablikova told Reuters ahead of the Sochi Games which begin on February7.

"When I heard it (Rogge's comments), it was amazing. For me, no words to say how happy I was and I am because when I read it again then I feel the same feeling like in Vancouver."

Sablikova's efforts made it the most successful Winter Olympics for her country, which had never before won more than one gold at a Winter Games - let alone one in speed skating.

The three previous Czech Republic gold medals came in cross-country skiing (2006 Turin Games), freestyle skiing (2002 Salt Lake City) and Ice hockey (1998 Nagano), while ski jumping (1968 Grenoble) and figure skating (1972 Sapporo) provided Czechoslovakia's only Winter golds.

Without any heritage in the sport, let alone an oval rink in the country, Sablikova's achievements in Canada four years ago were all the more remarkable.   Continued...

Germany's Claudia Pechstein (L) skates to a second place finish against Czech Republic's Martina Sablikova in the Women's 5000m race at the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 11 , 2007. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files