When did you first start playing Boccia?
I think I started playing at the age of 12. I learned about Boccia from my friends who were in the Parent Project organization in Czechia. I tried it out and I’ve realized that this is an ideal sport for me. I started training at the special school in Pardubice and at the sports club ‘TJ Léčebna Košumberk’.
How did you fall in love with Boccia?
Boccia matches are always thrilling! It is always exciting to see wins in the end. I am glad that I am able to fully concentrate on playing a sport which brings me so much fulfilment. I also have lots of friends who are Boccia players too, so it is always fun to be able to play a match with them.
For the people who are not familiar with Boccia, could you please tell us a little more about the sport?
Boccia is quite similar boules, but it is adapted for disabled people. I am currently playing in the BC3 category where players are not able to throw the ball with their hands. Instead, players can use a device to assist them and also they can be helped by a nominated person at the court to send their ball down the ramp to try to get it closest to the white ball, the so-called “Jack”.
How much time do you devote to practicing Boccia?
I train 2 to 3 times a week for 3-5 hours. Before competitions, I sometimes train up to 4 times a week and I also have training matches lined up before the actual competition. I also watch a lot from my opponents’ matches to learn from them.
When did you realize that you wanted to pursue it full-time and qualify for the Paralympics?
I graduated from high school in 2017 and was thinking about what I could do in the future. Around the same time, I received an invitation to represent my country in Boccia, so I decided to give priority to Boccia over my studies.
We talked about my participation in the upcoming Paralympics around the end of 2018. But it was really only after winning the 2019 Boccia World Cup in Canada that qualifying for the Paralympics started to look promising.
Did you anticipate winning gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics?
My goal was to advance to the play-off, and I told myself that I wanted to do as well as possible at the games. However, it didn’t really occur to me that I would earn a medal, let alone win the gold medal!
How did you feel in the finals?
I was a bit nervous. I knew I was about to face the “favorite to win” at the match, and I would have been happy with second place. But I took a 3:0 lead in the first round, and my opponent equalized to 3:3 in the later round, and there was a tiebreaker. In the end, it turned out well for me as I won the gold medal!
Who are your biggest supporters?
I owe thanks especially to my mom and my family. They have devoted a lot of time to support me in Boccia. Apart from the competitions I had, there were also long hours spent training at the gym. The coaches have also helped me a lot to get to where I am. My friends in the ”Košumberk” team have kept their fingers crossed for me even through there were not able to be at all my matches. I’ve had great support from my village Rohovládova Bělá where I live, and also from people outside my village. I want to thank my sponsors as I would not have been able to travel for my international competitions without them.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
Athletes who continue to fight even though the match seems to be lost.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to do my best at the Boccia World Cup in Brazil this year. And eventually, I would like to qualify for the 2024 Paris Paralympics.
What is your life motto?
You must not give up any match, even when you are losing.