Isn’t it broken? Tereza couldn´t believe she became a champion.
We are happy to share this successful case study. After seven months of joint work, Tereza is the Czech national champion.
When she finished the race, she checked the stopwatch and her face mirrored astonishment. “What? Is this really MY time? Is it really working? Isn’t it broken?”
It wasn’t. It really was her time.
Tereza Vokálová was 18 on Thursday and she became the Czech Female Champion in 400 m hurdles with the best time: 57.23 seconds. Last year it was 60.85 seconds for her. This year brought her the championship in Tabor, with a personal record on hurdles: 58.86 seconds. In Saturday’s starting run, she improved her time to 58.68 seconds. During the weekend, her time suddenly got better by 1.63 seconds and at once she became the fastest European Junior Female Runner.
In no time, the hurdle runner was hugging Dana Jandová, her excited coach. This coach had once seen the beginnings of the career of hurdle runner Zuzana Hejnová.
Vokálová’s relationship to the present champion of the world is very strong. Beside the fact that her running shoes are from Hejnová, she says “Zuzka told me how to do it yesterday. I listened. What did she say to me? It’s a secret.”
What is not a secret is that Dana Jandová used a similar model when coaching Vokálová as she had with Hejnová.
„We use the same technique; i.e. combined events.“ She speaks about the focusing on more events and compares them. “Zuzka used to be more cursorial and Terezka faster. We consult everything with Zuzka. We stay in touch. She can help Terezka a great deal because athletics and running is mainly in your head.
Vokálová admits that up to now, she has never focused on 400 m hurdles.
“We were preparing for combined events and short-distance hurdles,” says the coach. “Long hurdles were practiced mostly partially because she didn’t have it in her head yet. She didn’t even want to run the event but now I guess I have to persuade her.” It won’t be difficult at all. Even Vokálová now says: “400 m hurdles will be my event now. Before that, I didn’t have it sorted out in my head. I didn’t know what I wanted. Now I am going to believe in myself. I don’t have time to practice combined events anyway. I have to make time for school.”
Vokálová did not obey her instructions. She ran 15 steps. “Her sense of rhythm is amazing,” said the surprisingly satisfied coach. “She doesn’t care about right foot or left foot. She learnt to use both and it doesn’t matter to her which one she puts there; she crosses the hurdles smoothly. And at the same time, she has a perfect finish. She runs from the seventh hurdle as Zuza does, she boosts her running performance and doesn’t lose power in the final part.“ They wanted Tereza to take part in the European Under-19 Championship. But with the time from Tabor, Tereza also successfully satisfied the A-limit for European Championship in Amsterdam in July.
Vocalová comes from a sports family. Her father used to play football and her two younger sisters are in athletics as well. She is rather shy. “That’s why she hasn’t believed in herself for a long time,” says the coach. “But in this respect, Zuzka Hejnová and Mr. Šimonek, a psychologist, have helped her a great deal. Mr. Šimonek used a tool called SportMind. A year ago, her head was in a completely different place. Now, it’s different. She starts the race thinking she is going to defeat the others.
With hope in her voice, Jandová says: “There’s a huge potential in her. And she has vast reserves. We haven’t even been training 400 meters. And neither have we done much regeneration yet. I have to push here there.”