Czech Biathlon Legend Advocates for Mental Health and Resilience 



Gabriela Soukalová is a former Czech national biathlete, overall successful as: 


  • 2015-16 Biathlon World Cup winner 
  • Double silver medallist at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games 
  • Bronze medallist at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games 
  • World Champion in sprint 
  • Silver medallist in the endurance race and bronze in the pursuit race of Hochfilzen 2017 
  • World Champion in the mixed relay and silver medallist in the endurance race in Kontiolahti 2015 
Photo credit: Miceman, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Photo credit: Miceman, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

She won seventeen races individually in the World Cup and stood on the highest podium in team races six times. In the junior category, she became the world champion in the relay race. In 2017, she became the first biathlete to win the Czech Athlete of the Year Award in the individual category, and for the fifth time, she was ranked in the elite ten best Czech athletes. She last competed in Spring 2017 but did not compete the following season due to persistent health problems. In May 2019, she officially announced the end of her sporting career. 

In Spring 2018, she published her autobiography, which became quite controversial. In her book, she talks about her difficult beginnings in the biathlon world, her long-standing problems with anorexia and overall challenges as a female professional athlete such as the societal pressure on her overall appearance. In March 2024, the feature documentary Gabriela Soukalová premiered, highlighted her training, victories, and personal challenges. In the film, besides her career and eating disorder problems, she also talked about the wave of criticism she received after the release of her autobiography, thoughts of suicide, and her attempt to return to biathlon. 

Beyond her remarkable biathlon career, Gabriela Soukalová engaged in initiatives to raise awareness about athletes' mental health challenges after her retirement. As a vocal advocate for athlete well-being, she has been emphasizing on the critical importance of mental health and resilience. Gabriela set up her fund called "Gabi", which supports people with disabilities and eating disorders. She expressed the following: "I decided to establish the Gabi Foundation based on my own experience with eating disorders (ED), which I had during my sports career as a result of spending many years in an environment where there was a huge pressure to perform. Her openness about her struggles has sparked important conversations within the sports community, aiming to break down stigmas and promote a more inclusive and understanding approach to athlete care and support. 

Article recreated by: Natálie Wolfová and Zuzana Jana Halfarová


Licensed image from: Miceman, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Featured image from: Franta.Kucera, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons