The exclusive interview with the sprint canoeist, who won the Olympics and 15 World Championships.
How did you become interested in canoe sprint? How did you start?
My father was a good kayak athlete as well and I grow up in the club with other kids in my age. I was in the boat before I could swim, I think with 3 or 4 years.
What kind of sports do you like except canoe sprint? What kind of sports have you gone in for before you started your career in canoeing?
When I was young I tried a lot of sports from football to ice hockey to skiing and many more. I was always interested to learn new sports and challenge myself to train it to almost perfect.
Nothing changed till today. I still do a lot of sports on the side. Surfing, kitesurfing and in winter I always take a chance to go freeride-skiing with my friends.
How do you manage to be the best sportsman for so long? What motivates you to win again and again?
It is just passion! I love what I do. The motivation is not about to win, it is about to challenge myself and try to always get better. You must be really self-critical and honest to yourself, it is never boring to work on it.
Now you are getting ready for the 6th Olympic Games. Have you already passed the national selection for the team? What discipline do you prepare for the Olympic season 2020?
I have not yet qualified for the team. It comes with our selections in the spring. For sure I have (like my K4 partners too) a little bonus because of the results from last year, but in general we have to show up that we are in good shape.
My absolute main goal is the K4 500m. We have actually a dream combination of people which is working perfect together. Dependent from the Olympic schedule and my personal shape there is still an option to go for the K1 200m.
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?
It depends if I am at home or in trainingscamp. I am luckily a full paid athlete and have the whole day for training at home. So I have normally Monday and Tuesday 3-4 sessions, Wednesday half day with 2 sessions, Thursday and Friday 3-4 sessions and Saturday half day 2 sessions. Sunday is off and all for the family.
For sure in winter I spend a lot more time in the gym as in the summer.
I have no extra technique session or something like this. In everything what I do doesn't matter if gym or paddling I try to be as close as I can to perfect movement process. That is always high on priority.
Where do you think is the best canoe venue in the World? What is your favorite one?
I think Duisburg is one of the best venues in the world and I love racing in front of my home crowd. But for sure there are more as just Duisburg. Hungary is always special and Moscow is not a bad one as well!
How and where do you train during the winter period?
In winter and early spring we spend a lot of weeks in Florida. In earlier years I spent winters in for example Australia and South Africa and I am really thankful for the opportunity the sport gave me to see all those nice places all over the world.
What is a normal day for you? As an athlete, what does a day in your life look like?
I am married and have two wonderful kids. Doesn’t matter if I train or not, I try to spend time with them as much as I can. When I train at home and not in camp, I try to drop them off to the childgarden every day and plan my day that way I have enough time in the afternoon too.
They gave me the energy to be top motivated in training.
What brings success in professional sport?
In my case:
- support from my family
- self critical
- self discipline
- 100% willpower
- strong mind
What is the most important part of the distance for you during the race?
That is hard to decide. In my actual main discipline K4 500m there is not really a part where the nations allow you any faults. But the start is always important. If the start works well then you can follow the plan for the other parts like planned before.
How do you prepare mentally for a race? How do you stay focused and keep a cool head at the starting line and during your race?
I am a pretty positive person in general so I have not much struggles with my mental race preparing. Sometimes I try to have memories from big victory in my mind.
The pictures I have in my mind I want to repeat. That plus the wish to train hard and being in a good shape give me the self confidence I need.
Ronald Rauhe special for CanoeSport.