Monday marked the return of one of the Czech Republic's greatest sporting heroines, as Katerina Neumannova, the holder of the country's only gold medal in the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, finally arrived back in Prague. Much excitement surrounded her homecoming, with Neumannova, who undoubtedly provided the jewel in the crown for this year's Czech Olympic team, having achieved both silver in the Women's 15km pursuit and gold in the Women's 30km cross country skiing events. Chris Jarrett spoke to Neumannova about her recent success and plans for the future:
Congratulations, first of all. What was passing through your mind when you were on that final furlong, those final hundred metres, before you took gold?
"Some three or four hundred metres before the finish I expected that I would be bronze for the 30km competition. But then I started to work hard and I said I must try it and 10 maybe 15 metres before the finish line I was the winner so it was fantastic, great and I will remember it forever."
Photographs all over the media have shown your daughter coming to congratulate you after the race. What was her reaction?
"There wasn't any theatre involved. It has happened because my au pair and my daughter were in the finish area and the Italian police are OK with babies so when my au pair put Lucie on the snow she just started to run and I saw her so it was a fantastic moment for me."
Is she taking an interest in the skiing itself?
"Yes a little bit but she likes to play on snow much more than skiing. Sometimes she skis for 20 or 30 minutes."
Now back to the Olympics. Before the competition began did you believe that you would return such a great success?
"I believed that I was well prepared but it's not possible to believe in a gold medal. It could have happened but it's also about a lot of good luck and having a good day but I believed I was in good shape. What I would bring home, whether a medal or not, I didn't know."
So what are your plans now for the future? Another Olympics?
"No. Not another Olympics. I will be thinking about next season in the spring, maybe one more. But this Olympics is the last one."
My Prague – Rob Cameron
Agencies abuse Czech visa system in Ukraine to fuel booming illegal business
Hockey legend Jaromír Jágr turns 45
Marie Iljašenko: a European poet
New documentary celebrates Czechoslovak war hero, RAF pilot Emil Boček
Jan Antonín Baťa always said he put his people first, says granddaughter Dolores Bata Arambasic
Academic Michael Smith: Czech govt. is supporting education of well-off through “free” universities