There is another interview with an (un)ordinary person, this time Viktorie Švejdová, a Czech hockey goalkeeper and historically the first Chrastavanka to compete in the Olympic Games. At only nineteen, she represented the Czech women’s hockey team at the Beijing Winter Olympics this year. Victoria currently operates in Sweden and has shared her story with us.
Victoria was born in Liberec and part of her childhood lived in Andělská Hora near Chrastava. In 1936, cyclist Hans Leutelt from Chrastava took part in the Berlin Olympics. On March 21 this year, the Chrastava 2022 athlete was announced and this young hockey goalie won the award.
Victoria now works in Sweden, where she plays in the Swedish women’s hockey league for the Modo Hockey Dam club. But let’s look at how it all started.
How did you come to hockey? At what age did you climb the ice for the first time?
My dad took me to hockey. My parents always guided me towards sports and hockey fascinated me the most. Dad played hockey, so I kind of took over after him. I started at Frýdlant when I was about 3 years old. At the age of four, ours put me in preparation for the first time in Liberec.
“When Viky was three, we started watching hockey here in Liberec. Then there was a big recruitment event for Liberec hockey players in kindergartens, and Viky came from kindergarten – at the age of three and a half – and said: I want to play in hockey, dad. ” Victoria’s father remembered his daughter’s early life.
Have you ever practiced other sports?
During summer training, I played almost everything with the boys, but never paid full attention to anything. My dad and I used to play tennis for a while, but we didn’t have time for it anymore. Since I’ve been in Sweden, I only do other sports for leisure. My favorite is spikeball, which we play both before warm-up games and then all summer.
You played at Liberec for the White Tigers. How do you remember that? How long have you been there?
I have been in Liberec for the longest part of my life, from when I was 4 to under 15. Above all, I have many good memories. I wouldn’t say it’s always sunny, but the friendships, relationships and experiences that I always carry with me are absolutely unique and unmistakable.
Do you have big hockey ambitions and dreams?
I remember in 4th grade, we had the task at school to write down our dreams and what we would like to achieve. I still remember my sentence: “My dream is to compete in the World Championships in Globen, Sweden.” However, I had no idea that I would go to the Olympics and Sweden would be my home. Since the 8th, I have been actively preparing to go abroad, it was my dream.
You left for Sweden at the age of fourteen. Did it meet your expectations? On the contrary, what was difficult?
I really wanted it and I think I’m proof that when you really want something and go against it, everything happens at the right time. I didn’t have very high expectations, because at that time I couldn’t imagine what to expect, etc. But the mere fact that I’m here for the fifth consecutive year confirms how satisfied I am with it. At first it was a little difficult in terms of language and integrating with the people of the North, but the truth is that I have been very lucky to have people that I have met here who have not not hesitate to help me and to be there for me.
Did your family support you in hockey and then move to Sweden at such a young age?
Without my family, I would not be where I am today. Thanks to them, I had the opportunity to travel and thanks to them, I still live here. My parents have always supported me in everything I imagined and at the same time set the limits of what I can afford and what I cannot. I’m very proud of them how they did it, especially my mom. I know it wasn’t easy for her to let me fly and start my life somewhere else, but we did it together and I’m very happy about it.
Was it difficult to reconcile secondary studies and demanding sports training?
I wouldn’t say it was especially hard to ride, as I was going to a hockey high school, where the school was geared towards training. But what I found difficult was a lot of information and knowledge – especially the first two years when I was not yet fluent in Swedish, then everything went smoothly.
How often do you go as a family?
I go to my family a few times a year depending on when we have meetings with the national team. Besides, of course, I don’t miss Christmas and summer holidays. Our brother and I come to see me every summer, it’s usually warm and sunny.
Olympics: When you learned that you had joined the Czech national team, how did you feel?
I was incredibly happy, it’s every athlete’s dream and I must admit I had to pinch myself when the nomination came out. It was an unforgettable experience that I will tell my children one day.
In Beijing, in the match against Denmark, which you caught up with, your team lost 2:3. Did you play sports?
Of course, I was sorry. By the time I left the ice I was of course sad and angry at the same time. Now, over time, I take it sportily. I’ve certainly had a lot of experience with that. After all, you learn with mistakes, so I took my lesson and accepted this sport. It was an incredible honor for me to fight at such a big event for our small but beautiful country. I will never forget it and I certainly won’t remember it in a bad way.
After the Olympics, the statements of coach Pacina, who ended up with the team, were treated a lot. How do you assess this situation from your point of view? He was very critical of the team.
I don’t think it’s up to me to assess this situation, and now it’s too late. Tomas has done a tremendous amount of work for women’s hockey and we have achieved our goal. I’m sorry, of course, that he quit, but now is the time to move on and achieve our other goals with a new coach. In August we have the World Cup in Denmark waiting for us, which is now a key objective for the next six months, so I’m really looking forward to welcoming the new coach and we can start the new season together.
The Olympics had to be “special” because of the covid measures and China and its violations of human rights in general. What were your feelings about this?
You’re probably right, maybe it was different, but who wants what he wants, we are athletes and we went there to enjoy it and make your dream come true. Of course, the situation around China is not pleasant for me, but I cannot influence anything. I am very happy to have been able to be there and to have been part of the team that brought women’s hockey closer to the whole Czech Republic. It was our biggest victory. I am sincerely very happy that we are starting to be perceived by the public, it will help all of women’s hockey and I am not only talking about our current team, but especially the future ones.
What are your plans now?
I’m just in the planning phase on both sides, but the priority for me right now is to relax after the season, both physically and mentally. Then I plan to start summer training, ice, etc., to be as prepared as possible for the World Cup and the new season in Sweden.