Like many On athletes, Petra comes from a very active family. Her mother, Eva (far left in the photo below), was an athlete herself – though a sprinter rather than a triathlete like Petra – and her sister too (second from right below). As you can see, they’ve even competed on the same team in the past.
With Petra recently realizing a lifetime goal of qualifying for Tokyo, we asked her mom a few questions about what she was like as a child. Read on for the Q&A.
Hey Eva, what’s your earliest memory of Petra getting involved in sport?
Petra was a cheerful child who always had a mind of her own and wanted to help others. If she wasn’t the best at something, she had great willpower and a desire to improve. She always wanted to race, to win and to make something of herself.
How do you feel looking back at these times and seeing how far she has come?
Seeing how far Petra has come, I feel incredible happiness and joy. The girl from Jablonec did it.
What’s it like seeing her dreams come true on the biggest stage of all?
When I watch her compete, I’m the proud mother with goose bumps and sweaty hands. I’m nervous and my heart races! I’m only relieved when she crosses the finish line. I don’t care what position she gets, I just hope she is satisfied with her performance.
Watching her compete in Tokyo, I was very, very nervous. I was pretty good at swimming and running races when I was younger but competing in a triathlon? It's a huge struggle in the water and on the bike anything can happen. For me, I can only really enjoy the running part.
More generally, do you enjoy watching Petra compete?
I do get nervous from time to time, but mostly I'm very happy for her. Qualifying for Tokyo means she has reached one of her goals. It was not an easy journey but with diligence, perseverance and humility, she made it.
I'm very proud of her – not just for the athlete she is but for the person she is.
How do you support her today?
Honestly, I’ve never thought of it this way. She is tough, physically fit and she has always loved to race and to win. I'd rather help her with her mentally; give her strength, combativeness and help her to have no worries. The most important thing to me is that she enjoys it and that she wants to do it.
When you think back to Petra as a child, did you ever think she could go so far?
When Petra was six years old, she and her sister used to come running with me once a week. We always ran the first few kilometers slowly but for the last 100m we’d always go all out.
Petra was the youngest, so initially she was the slowest too. But soon she started overtaking her sister and then when she started beating me too – I was a sprinter – it became clear she had something special.
Do you have any memories that stick in your mind? Why these ones?
People used to say that this “little Kuříkova girl isn't much – her sister runs well but not her.” It was obvious that she didn't like that. She quickly caught up to her sister and moved past her.