Read the interview with the Czech canoe sprint kayaker, World champion and triple Olympic medalist.
How did you become interested in sprint? What made you decide you wanted to race competitively on a national and international level?
My father was a kayak coach and taught me how to paddle. I did many sport before, but I did not like any other so much. My mum told me that I can have big dreams, so I wanted to be the best in the world.
What kind of sports do you like except canoe sprint?
I love alpine skiing, casual dancing, football, tennis and fishing if it is considered as a sport. And what I did before? That’s a long list. Its ice-hockey, basketball, swimming, track and field and judo.
What motivates you to win and to become the best sportsman?
I was just once the best sportsman – at World Championship 2014. The motivation is: I am not successful enough. I still did not achieve the big victory at Olympic games.
What does your training week look like? Do you train a lot in the gym? Do you train a lot on the water and master your technique?
We usually train for 3 days and then one day off. Normal training day we do two paddling session and one session of gym or running. So the gym is every second day.
At least once per week we have a special paddling session focused just on technique with many different exercises.
Where do you think is the best canoe venue in the World? What is your favorite one?
I like Krylatskoe in Moscow and Racice. Also venue in Duisburg is very good. And my favorite is Racice, because I spend there almost all training time.
How and where do you train during the winter period? What places do you like most of all?
First of all I don’t like winter training. Long endurance stuff is boring and I feel like its killing me. We go for cross-country skiing training camp to Italy, otherwise we stay home. We paddle a lot on ergo. Whole November and March we train on the water in California. I love hamburgers, so it’s my favourite place.
How does a day in your life look like?
I start with a good quality breakfast then go for the main paddling training session. After light lunch I usually go for some coffee and cake for more energy for afternoon paddling and gym. If I have some time spared I go fishing even for 20 minutes.
What qualities bring success in professional sport?
Purposefulness, you don’t give up easily, competitiveness and conscientiousness.
How do you rate your performance at the 2016 Olympics and World Championships 2017? In your opinion what distances should be added to the Olympic program?
Having two medals from Rio was insane result, so I became popular in Czech. It’s good to have medals from Olympics, but I still miss the gold one.
I was disappointed in Racice. Third place was my worst performance at all World Championships and I wanted to win in front of the home crowd. Luckily I had another chance on 500m distance where I won.
I would like to see the K1 500m in the men category again. I think it’s the most attractive distance of all.
What is the most important part of the distance for you during the race?
It is always the middle part. During the 1K I have to relax and make my strokes more effective. If I do it well I have more power for the last 250m. For 500m distance I have to push from 150 to 350 mark because I know I can always somehow paddle to the finish line.
How do you prepare mentally for a race? How do you stay focused and keep a cool head at the starting line?
You will never see me calm before important race. If you do, I screw the race up. I just turn «Killer mode» on. I don’t race with other competitors; I always try to reach the best time. In general I am my only opponent.
What are your plans for this year?
I would like to compete in K1 1000m and 500m and win everything.
Who do you think are your main rivals? Do you pay attention to anyone in particular?
There are many youngsters who are going to be very good. We have Kopasz, Walz and Rodrigeuz. We also know that Poulsen, Liebscher, Yurenia, Pimenta and Australians had amazing results before. I just focuse on myself because there are so many of them.
Have you got a lot of friends? Say «Hello» to them, take a chance!
I like to talk to people when I am not in the killer mode, so I got friends all over the world. I would like to say hello to Max Hoff, Petter Menning, Fabio Wyss and Tilen Vidovic.
Have you heard about CanoeSport?
I love the way you entertain people by social media. I follow CanoeSport on Facebook and Instagram. Stay the same and encourage youngsters to do this beautiful sport.
Josef Dostal special for CanoeSport.