You have participated a TFA championship – how did it go?
To clarify, it was the Czech Republic Championship in TFA disciplines. I must say that this year’s TFA CRC boasted a really challenging course. After the competitors in full combat gear, which consists of a complete emergency suit, emergency helmet, gloves, firefighting boots and breathing apparatus, completed three sections, the 4th section with a beautiful 369 steps climb up to the Štramberská Trúba tower awaited them. For me, the TFA Czech Republic Championship was the best it could be. I finished in the beautiful 2nd place and enjoyed the race immensely. Even those 369 steps were almost a piece of cake. The 1st place would indeed have been better but considering that I had a certain misunderstanding with the snap-hook, and I lost valuable seconds when opening it, I am happy with the second place.
How demanding is the physical preparation, and how do you prepare mentally?
Physical preparation is really demanding, it is not an easy sport, and if you decide to participate in a TFA race, you are supposed to have already done some physical preparation. It does not seem like it most of the time because when you watch elite athletes, they make the events look easy and effortless, but the opposite is true. However, for me, the mental preparation has been more important over the last year. In 2021, I struggled a lot with my “head”. At last year’s CRC, I could not stand the pressure of a big race and high expectations. Instead of giving one of my best performances, I ran or struggled through one of my worst races and the fact that despite everything, the leg pain, the mistakes, and the shortness of breath, I brought home 3rd place from the TFA CRC was disappointing. That is why this year, I have focused on mental preparation. I am interested in sports psychology. I watch various lectures on this topic, read books and gradually try to apply the steps to myself. Among other things, I went to this year’s TFA Czech Republic Championship with the aim of not letting myself be distracted by anything and enjoying the competition and the whole CRC as much as possible. I managed to do that, and the 2nd place, which resulted from a lot of hard work, was the icing on the cake. The physical fitness and the preparation associated with it are much easier than the mental side, or at least that is how I see it. Mental preparation is a long run, and you must always work on it and “arm” yourself.
How do you rest? You have a demanding schedule both physically and mentally.
The only time I am physically and mentally at peace is during Christmas. That is when I go for a run or go for some circuit training, but otherwise, I try to relax as much as possible. This year will be different, though, as I still have two races coming up in December. Regarding my mental state during the season and, in general, during the whole year, the best cure for worry is loud music in my earphones to isolate me from the surroundings and a run, preferably in nature, where no one is around. This duo can take my mind off things and then, of course, my boyfriend, family and closest friends. But mostly, I just need to be on my own with music and running.
You have had a very successful year. You have finished your studies at the Faculty of Safety Engineering at VSB-TUO and brought bronze from the World Firefighter Games, silver from the Moravian TFA League, and gold from Ratiboř. How do you evaluate the year 2022?
This year was quite demanding due to the submission of the Master’s thesis and the subsequent final state examinations. Especially April and May were really exhausting, both mentally and physically. Ten days after I handed in my thesis, when I had been spending more time on PC than in bed, I flew to the World Firefighter Games (WFG) in Portugal, which was the toughest and most challenging competition I had done so far. It was very hard mentally because, thanks to social media, I could watch my opponents from different parts of the world working hard, and I had to limit my training a lot to write the Master’s thesis and completely stop it a few days before the submission. However, in the end, even this forced break bore its fruit, and I brought home the beautiful 3rd place in my age category from the WFG 2022. Although I managed to win gold during the season, those important competitions like the TFA Czech Republic Championship or the overall ranking of the Moravian TFA League were silver. Hence, as I like to say – there is still much to work on. However, like in every season, I evaluate this one very positively. I have worked on the weaknesses from last year and gained experience for the following seasons. I am also optimistic about 2022, which is not over yet, and I believe it will still come up with something ��.
What do you remember about your studies at the Faculty of Safety Engineering at VSB-TUO? Was the study challenging?
In retrospect, I really miss the studies. Especially student life. Moreover, my studies were basically limited for two years by the COVID-19 pandemic and my classmates, and I could not properly enjoy the new technologies at our faculty, such as CESIT. But I also miss the extracurricular activities that are part of university studies.
Studying is always challenging, but it depends on how the student sets it up. If someone enjoys a particular course, they will find it less challenging than someone who has not even stumbled upon the subject. As far as I am concerned, studying was definitely challenging. Still, if you want to, anything goes. I am a person who wants to, so my studies went well even with training, projects, and other extracurricular activities J .
What do you do after your studies at VSB-TUO?
Currently, I am already working as a fire prevention and OHS technician, so I “only” changed a university classroom for an office, and other activities remained the same after graduation – training, sports in general, spending time with my boyfriend, family, friends, trips, various hikes, and so on.
Would you recommend the university to secondary school seniors who are now deciding what university to go to?
Yes, it is a very prestigious university that is constantly developing and offers endless possibilities for studying and extracurricular activities. However, even the study itself, specifically at the Faculty of Safety Engineering, was very interesting, and thanks to the use of the latest technology, the student will encounter almost real scenarios when dealing with various emergencies.
What do you see as the most significant benefit of studying at VSB-TUO?
That the student does not have to “just” sit and listen but can touch a lot of things, try them out, put themselves in the roles and, in short, that the teaching is practical and not just theory. Plus, of course, how VSB-TUO is developing, modernising, planning, and adapting to the times. And last but not least, VSB-TUO has the biggest base of hockey fans, and the atmosphere at the Ostrava derby is indescribable.
Where do you see yourself in a few years? What are your goals for next year?
It is hard to say. I usually cannot tell what will happen in a week, let alone a few years. I am a person with the here-and-now approach. However, the plans for the year, as far as my sports life is concerned, are already there: to make my weaknesses into strengths, which is a goal for my professional life.
Text: Ing. Barbora Urbanovská
Photo: Kateřina Vodičková’s archive