The Most Incredible Determination in the Olympics | Against All Odds

The Most Incredible Determination in the Olympics  | Against All Odds


I was in the best shape ever. That is the only chance
which I have. But no-one could have thought
that the fall was so deep. Never before happened
something like that. We didn’t predict this. How could she overcome this
extensive injury and do this? And I can just say I don’t
know. It was just about
not to give up. It was just about trying. Crash was so strong
and injurious that we tried to stop her. I said, nah,
the story is not finished yet. (AGAINST ALL ODDS –
PETRA HURTOVÁ) (OLYMPIC GAMES
VANCOUVER, CANADA, 2010) (17TH FEBRUARY – WHISTLER
OLYMPIC PARK) (CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING) When I arrived to
Vancouver, I was probably in
my lifetime shape. How many medals are you
going to win at the Olympics? – I hope minimum three.
– Many. Of course. One day before the race, as a usual programme
it’s like easy skiing and then make
some technical parts around and then make some
maybe sprints for activation and warm up. Petra had been doing, like,
starts with some athletes
from other nations and these athletes
have been men and she had been able
to beat the men in the sprints in the stadium, which for us
was something like…shocked. I said to myself
and also to other, “Pay attention,
make a note of this. “Petra will get
the gold medal.” Well, how the story developed is, of course, another story. (00:30AM
WARM-UP) I remember that
early in the morning I did the course inspection. I thought I did it well,
but obviously I didn’t. The skis were just gliding
and they didn’t brake. They lost the contact with snow and generally if there
would be a wider track or a wider curve or it would be a bend, you could go close to bend and the bend would be
your brake, it wouldn’t be a problem, but unluckily
there was no bend. I would not expect somebody would ski so far
from the line, but it happened, so she crashed
in that awful…ditch. When I was flying I realised it was four
and a half metre deep hole. You always turn to see how, or where are you falling, and suddenly I realise
there is dark. I was starting to scream badly and with that scream I started to feel really bad
pain in my back. Somehow
I climbed out of that hole and I tried to run by my foot
to stadium without skis, because they were broken. I reach Ivan
and John Luca and Milos, because they were running
in opposite side – to try to reach me.
– We tried to stop her because doctors know
what can be when she says,
“I have pain here.” Doctor can imagine
that some ribs can be broken, and doctor immediately react, we have here
some dangerous situation and it is better
to not start. I have to go and start. It was too much involved
in that moment, in that competition,
in that medal. You know, 20 years of work. It was a great team behind, who gave more than four years
of their lives. Petra comes from
a small town. Though her hometown
is not far from the Slovenian capital
Ljubljana, she was brought up in a family,
along with her brother, where they had to work a lot and listen to their
father and mother. We had made the children accustomed to working
since they were little. The only dowry
you can give a child is to teach them to work. They can always quit later. She was actually very lucky when she crossed paths with
her coach Robert Slabanja. Petra also worked at home
in addition to her training, and this undoubtedly
helped her at first as she also acquired
working habits along the way, and in addition
with the chores at home, physical labour
made her stronger and in this way
she also acquired some physical strength.
Later on, when the training became more demanding,
more serious, work at home became disruptive. Roberto was very demanding, he was very professional,
I would say. He demanded that
whatever you do, you do 100%. I went to her house once
to visit her father and we came to an agreement that she wouldn’t have
to do the work at the farm any more,
and her father accepted. First we start the training,
we were all about fun, and then when we were
about ten or something we started to go to these races
and everything. She was all the time
very determined that she wants to be the best, that she really wants
to do something. (10:35AM
QUALIFYING HEAT) When I came to
the stadium, everybody was in shock, because the news just spread
between the teams really rapidly –
everybody knew it. “Petra fell extremely badly, “maybe perhaps for her “it is not possible
to go and start.” We really see that we have
no chance to change her mind, then we can no fight against,
we have to do something, how to support her
in this situation. I didn’t want to sit, because I realise if I sit
the pain will be even worse. I had to move
to keep my body warmed up. Then we say OK,
you are not sprinting, you’ll just make your race
as you want to make race in the Olympics
and you just go… ..slowly around, you make your
loop and we go to hospital. The qualification run, it was every two seconds
scream because with my… I breathed, you know,
I take a breath in but when I put the breath out I was just like from a scream, I put it out,
the pain in breath. I still have
very close to my eyes that scene
that there was first uphill and the coaches
from all countries were standing on the same side just watching the competition. In that moment
everybody was totally silent, totally silent
just listening that scream. And I still fight till the end hoping to reach top 30,
and I did, I was 19th
after qualifications. And I was lying on the floor
and I said “OK, I did it, “first step is done.” I didn’t think any more
about the medal, it was just about…
not to give up. It was just about trying. In that moment I realise,
OK, you just try. It was just, don’t give up,
it’s not end yet, the story didn’t end yet. Cross-country skiing is a sport
which takes a lot of effort to achieve good results. Coming from farm family, coming from
state like Slovenia, that helped me to
develop myself. The path was not easy one, and that motivated me
every day, every morning, that I’m coming from origin
where is the best environment to become
a cross-country skier. Sometimes, I also compared
Petra to Don Quixote, fighting with the windmills, and thought her efforts
will bear no fruit and she should do
something else instead. But it was all in vain –
she went on her own path. No-one understood why
cross-country skiing is so important to you
that you are going first session of training,
rest in car, second session of training,
and driving home, and putting
all your savings in that. And that was really
hard period, I had a feeling
that I am fighting against all. But at age 21, in Asiago and I was for the first time
on podium, suddenly I got
much better conditions. I got employment in army forces and that was
a big breakthrough. Armed forces help
especially young athletes to… in the kind that they gave them
social safety – they have their job, they have health insurance,
social insurance. It was something like “wow”
for me. I could live from it, I could buy
additional material. I could…I could really be
independent. (10:45AM
WHISTLER OLYMPIC PARK) The most important time was after
the qualification round because then we had a break, I don’t know, for an hour,
more than an hour, and she went to the doctor. We went to this ambulance
because we knew that there we could do
some medical examinations. We thought we could
do an X-ray whether something was broken
or worse. We were surprised
when we learned that they only had
ultrasonography, but that was still better
than nothing. If something is really broken we shouldn’t allow her
to continue, but if it is not broken, so it’s just the hit and
the pain because of the hit, we shouldn’t allow her to quit, because she will not be ready
to leave without getting medal. This is her last chance. And he was researching,
researching, examining me and everything, but he was saying,
“It’s nothing, it’s nothing.” But when you saw her, she needed ten minutes to
just turn around. It was awful, you know. So I can go, and he was
still trying to research me, to know what’s wrong. He said, “I don’t know but it
looks like everything is OK.” So I said, “Can I go?” And he actually allowed me. I was sure
I wasn’t risking anything and that I wasn’t
jeopardising her health. Her health was more important
to than the medal. When we finished
the examination at the doctor, she was really unable to walk. I remember I couldn’t ski,
I couldn’t run. I was just trying to walk
and keep my body warm. I said, “Do you have pain
in your arms?” She said no. I said, “Do you have pain
in your legs?” She said no. I said, “Then concentrate
only on your arms and legs.” (01:25PM
SEMIFINALS) I became
more and more exhausted – you have to understand
that this competition in total lasts for five, six hours… and this pain was killing me, and the agony of repeating
all these competitions and getting
more and more tired. And before semifinal I said, “I cannot any more, I cannot,” “I really cannot, it’s over.” And he started to scream at me. The coach come to me and asked Matej,
what can we do? And I said, “Let me think.”
You have to shout at her. If you shout, she’s not used to
do it that you shout at her. She will ask, “The coach is
shouting at me. What’s wrong?” This is not normal,
so it will make adrenaline and this adrenaline
will help her to reduce pain. It was so clear
that I’m in horrible pain and I was just trying to continue with my
“never give up” story. It was clear after situation
in Salt Lake City, it was clear after situation
in Turin that I will not get
the fourth Olympics. That’s the only chance
which I have. (OLYMPIC GAMES
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, 2002) In America, she was still
too young and immature, although, back then, she was
already in great condition. I was just a little girl, you know,
unsure about her abilities, unsure especially
in big competitions. (OLYMPIC GAMES
TORINO, ITALY, 2006) And then to Torino,
where she was real. At that time Petra was, according to the opinion
of many, including my own, capable of winning
at least one medal. I lost a medal. A service guy from Germany, he fall, and I was in
leading group of 11 athletes and he fell on me, he crashed me
during Olympic competition. When I was trying
to compete again, you know, the leading group
went away and I was in such
a huge shock, I didn’t know it in which
direction I have to run. You don’t expect that will
happen to you in Olympic Games. In Olympics
and in Slovenian sport it’s so that only medals count. Sometimes people don’t even
remember who was the second. But, OK,
medals are recognised – you don’t even
know who was the fourth. (01:45PM
FINAL) “Do not come back to
Slovenia without the medal, “because everybody will think “that you are just a coward “or that you are
physically not able to handle “the pressure of
big competitions.” Because this was third Olympics
and coming back without the medal again
was a big, big, big failure. I really knew it
that it’s impossible to beat Marit Bjrgen and Justyna Kowalczyk
in my condition. So I realised that, OK,
the third position, the bronze medal
is still capable to get. Then the final fight began. From position four
I still have a chance to fight for a medal. If you are in position five
or six secretly you just think
it’s too far, it’s too far,
and you just stop fighting. And then came this downhill
with the curve. I lost the balance there,
but my body was, like, dizzy. I was just not capable
to control it any more. I was tired
I start to lose balance… ..and the track, I just remember how loudly all the team members
were screaming. It was something… you know, from one point
I heard Ivan. When voice of Ivan
I was losing there was Milos and Matej, and everybody were there
on the track and that was
crucial moment probably, because I never on that track
totally give up. And suddenly it was that
I was with Anna Olsson. I’m sure that Petra, when she came to
the finish area, she knew if someone
deserves this medal today, this is me. I was gliding very long. Everybody else start to push
with arms earlier, but I was just gliding,
you know, trying to get some
more…moments, not seconds, moments of rest to prepare myself
for this finish. And I start to feel that you can get it, you can get it,
you really can get it. It was just 250,
it was just 200. I saw the finish line
and it was like, you can get it,
you can really get it, and start to feel
that Anna is giving up. That she’s losing it
and I realise, you get it. And I just…
There’s the finish line. In the short moments
until finish we have been already happy, but then came the situation when we have to
forget to be happy and just try to solve
situation. As this was such
a severe injury we decided along with
the doctor at the Polyclinic to do a chest CT,
which actually showed five broken ribs
and a pneumothorax. The pneumothorax
was so extensive, a chest drainage unit
had to be inserted. I was still in thought,
“I want to get the medal.” And he said
“No, it’s impossible.” I said, “How long does it
take to make this operation?” He said 15 minutes and I said,
“OK, I give you ten.” Ladies and gentlemen,
the bronze medallist, representing Slovenia,
Petra Majdic. In that moment I felt that the Slovenians
need some message to be told. That it’s possible. You just have to fight. It will not be easy.
It will not be easy at all, but you can manage, because life is giving you
as much pain as you are capable to
live with. And on the end of that path
the goal will be reachable. You will have to
suffer to do it, but it doesn’t matter.
You can do it. (AGAINST ALL ODDS
PRESENTED BY BRIDGESTONE)

63 Replies to “The Most Incredible Determination in the Olympics | Against All Odds”

  1. Bravo Petra. So happy you did it after all take medal. What a hero story…. I remember that race like was yesterday. Watching from croatia and praying you make it in finale after all. So happy for you.

  2. i remember that day like it was yesterday. we were all screaming, cheering and crying at the same time. I forget a lot of memories but is the one that will stay with me until the end. Petra is one of few people that I honestly admire. I have an absolute respect for her. Trully a brilliant sportwoman.

  3. I was there. I was 50m from her initial crash. I was the steadicam asst for her quals and every race shown above. I have never seen such fierce determination, and such powerful force of will.

    This woman is my hero.

  4. my hometown is Vancouver, and Petra Majdic captured the imagination of all Canadians watching the Olympics. In fact she was awarded the Terry Fox Medal for the Olympic Athlete that demonstrates the highest values of determination and humility in the face of adversity. Last year, I was attending a conference in Llubljana, and my hosts arranged a meeting with Petra Majdic. We had a great meeting out at Lake Bled and I was able to convey to her the heartfelt gratitude and admiration of all her Canadian fans, and what it was like for us when we witnessed her incredible story unfold at Vancouver2010. She shared some behind-the-scenes stories of what had transpired during those moments when she was desperately finding the courage and determination to stay in the competition. She was indeed carrying the hopes of her Country on her shoulders. I came away from that meeting with even greater admiration for her character and humility. Behind all of that athletic ability is a wonderful, authentic human being. Slovenians should know that their country is admired and respected because of champions like Petra Majdic.
    She won the Bronze Medal with a punctured lung and several fractured ribs… and was only 5 metres behind at the finish.

  5. Die ganze Zeit fragt man sich was denn überhaupt passiert ist:

    "
    Beim Aufwärmen zum ersten Wettkampf, dem Klassiksprint, verlor sie in einer Abfahrt die Kontrolle, stürzte eine Böschung hinab und prallte dort gegen einen Baum. Wie sich später herausstellte brach sie sich dabei vier Rippen und zog sich einen Riss des Lungenfells zu. Dennoch startete sie kurz darauf unter starken Schmerzen bei der Qualifikation, bei der sie 19. wurde. Sie kam schließlich bis ins Finale, wo sie hinter Marit Bjørgen und Justyna Kowalczyk den dritten Platz belegen konnte"

  6. I cannot believe that this german guy who fell on her was even allowed to be there. I mean, that's sabotage!! But this happens over and over in the Olympics (anyone remember that nutty priest who derailed the marathon in Athens?) and nobody seems to do anything about it. No one has to be near the athletes during competition. Absolutely no one!!! I am am amazed she was able to pick herself up from both of these horrific events. What a fierce fighter she is. I hugely admire her… good on her.

  7. And…the rest of the story? Was she able to recover completely? Surgery what? Doubtful most ppl could have walked after that injury! Amazing woman.

  8. 谁想看妹妹不穿衣服,然后自卫出水的,加薇信:yk2574。。。。。。。 ^zz&

  9. What amazing determination. But how on earth is there no barrier/fence to close off a ditch? Im surprised there wasn't a lawsuit or a fine for the lack of protection.

  10. How and you say that you deserve a medal when everyone else has worked just as hard as you have. The medal goods to the best and if you're not the best you don't get the medal.

  11. Petra = pure grit
    Thank you Petra for showing us the struggle of life thru sport! Always a Champion.
    Thank you Olympic channel. I am loving these stories.

  12. Drown into 4,5 m depth hole!? OMG. No one person has strong-willed like her after bad accident happened. She's really a super woman on my point of view, serious.

  13. Without the injury she would have gotten gold? She wasn't even that far behind! Shockingly amazing and resilient athlete.

  14. A true story: A friend of mine wanted to have some "fun time" with his girlfriend in bed and he got rejected cause she said she has a headacke! Dude jumped out of the bed, looked her in the eye and said; "Petra Majdič had 5 broken ribs and she won bronze medal on Olimpics and your crying about a headacke?!?!?"

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