That Antonin Hajek came in fourth and seventh at the skiflying competitions in Bad Mitterndorf is not only a suprise, but almost a miracle. Because the 22-year-old almost died at a car accident two years ago.
Close to his appartment, Hajek went off the road and was seriously injured. With the last of his strength he could call his father, who initiated the rescue of his son.
Did not know if he was alive after emergency surgery
"He cheated death twice", his former coach Richard Schallert told Berkutschi. "Once at the car accident and then again in the clinic. He had various internal injuries and blood in his abdominal cavity so he had to undergo emergency surgery. He told me that when he woke up after it he did not know if he is still alive", Schallert describes the situation of his athlete, he visited later in the ICU, with dramatic words. "It was only about surviving, not about skijumping", the Austrian, who is now working for the German Ski Association, told.
"We stayed in touch. After two or three months he started therapy. It was some sort of a machine that lead his legs. He could not move them on his own. During this time he could not even think of continuing his career", said Schallert. But Hajek proved to be a tough guy. "It was very hard for me. I couldn't do anything for about three or four months", he said in an interview with Berkutschi.
Visited his teammates at the WSC in Liberec
He kept on fighting and soon it showed that a full recovery was not impossible anymore. After some time that he had to spend in a wheelchair things started to improve for the lightweight. At the World Championships in Liberec last year he visited his teammates.
In summer Hajek made good progress and it showed that Schallert's successor David Jiroutek can hope for a comeback of the 22-year-old. "I started with training slowly. The last half year was much better. I could train 100 % again. It was a lot of work and it costed me a lot of energy to jump like this again", Hajek explained.
Good comeback in the Continental Cup
Hajek then took part at the Continental Cup opening in Rovaniemi early December. He finished as 43rd at his comeback and a day later he was already 29th. In Engelberg right after Christmas his performances improved rapidly. At the Continental cup on December 27th he was fifth and missed to podium only by 0.4 points. On the next day he made it on the podium. Second place, only 1.3 points behind the winner. Hajek was back.
At the skiflying in Bad Mitterndorf he landed the big strike. Out of nowhere the Czech from the club Dukla Liberec reached the world class with the best result of his career. "I'm in a good shape again", he said happily after the fourth place in Styria. Even Gregor Schlierenzauer, best skiflyer of all time, finished behind him in the first competition on Saturday.
"A really nice guy"
"That he could do that well is a huge surprise", said Schallert. "He always did well in skiflying, his good technique helps him", Schallert told. "He was always very good technically, but he had some deficits in strength. He told me that now he has even less strength, what is logical after the serious injury and the long break. But when he landed on the podium in Engelberg I thought, oh, something's possible", Schallert describes the great comeback of his former athlete. "Toni is a really nice guy. I'm very happy for him!"
Now Hajek is back again and he wants to give the competition a hard time, especially on flying hills. Maybe he can even crown his comeback with a medal at the skiflying World Championships in Planica at the end of this season. Then his comeback would be one of the greatest, that sports have ever seen. Comparable with the comebacks of Herman Maier or Thomas Muster, both also made successful returns after serious car accidents.