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Slukova always growing, always learning

Marketa Slukova made her World Tour debut in 2009
Lausanne, Switzerland, October 14, 2020 – Since she began her beach volleyball career on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour in 2009, Marketa Slukova has ensured that she has pushed herself hard to become the best player she can be. 

Since making her debut at the Klagenfurt Grand Slam in Austria, she has featured in the London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games, played at four FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships, and won six World Tour medals. 

Moreover, as a player and person she has continued to develop on and off the court, first alongside Krystyna Kolocova and now in tandem with Barbora Hermannova. 

“The past 12 years at this level definetely shaped me into the person I am right now,” Slukova said during the CEV European Championships. “I was always a competitor, but I hated losing and failing. 

“I hated it so much that I went into a vicious circle of self-doubt, self-criticism and I was down for a day or two after losing a game and I would always say ‘I am not good enough, I am never going to be good enough for the highest level’ and this has changed. 

“I still hate losing and failing but now I accept it as a part of the deal of being a professional athlete, chasing your dreams and trying to become the best in your sport.”

Like any athlete Slukova has left many tournaments without a medal, but with help from her coach and now-husband Simon Nausch, she has learned to recover quickly from defeat and move on to the next challenge. 

“Simon said, If you want to be only winning then you should only play on the Czech Tour, then you will be a big star, you will win most games and your ego will be happy and we don’t have to go through the terrible times together on the World Tour,” she said. 

“It was interesting to hear him be so honest with me. I realised that if I compete at this level then there will be a lot of learning and if I make a drama each time I lose, then it is going to be one hell of a ride.”

Top of Slukova’s list is qualifying for a place at Tokyo 2020 alongside Hermannova. If she does, she will be the first Czech beach volleyball player to feature in three Olympic Games. 

Currently they are well placed with a 17th position in the provisional FIVB Olympic Rankings which will be decided in June 2021. 
Her changed perspective means that she has allied her fierce competitive focus to greater enjoyment of the sport she loves. 

“As a person I have developed, grown and now perceive things differently and can see beach volleyball as it’s my job, my lifestyle,” she said. “I am so grateful to do what I love and travel at the same time, but I am getting older and have had health problems. 

“It made me realise my career could be gone from one day to the next. So, I can use the time when I am healthy and happy with a good partner to compete and I definitely want to make the most of my last years playing and give it all I have got.”

Slukova and Hermannova squeezed into Rio 2016 via the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Continental Cup and were knocked out in the lucky loser round, but with five years more experience of life on the World Tour they are confident that they can make their mark. 

The pair’s biggest World Tour win came in 2018 when they claimed gold at the Vienna 5-Star. That they have not matched it since, shows how competitive the women’s Tour has grown during Slukova’s time playing on it. 

“I always say anything is possible, it would be my dream and end goal to go for a medal in Tokyo,” Slukova said. “Barbora and I have shown we can compete, and we can play. If we get our stuff together and execute everything we have, then I think it is an open fight. 

“Tokyo will be a super tough fight and I can’t pick a winner at the moment. It is just one tournament and there are so many factors and I think it will go down to who is best prepared and who is in the best shape for those 14 days.

“Years ago, you had Kerri (Walsh Jennings) and Misty (May-Treanor), and Larissa (Franca) and Juliana (Felisberta). They were so dominant. They were always in the semifinals and if they did not win it was a surprise. 

“There are teams from all over the world fighting for top four finishes. The top 10-15 teams in the ranking can make a semifinal and just as easily the first seed can finish ninth, the development of women’s game is great.”

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