Exclusive interview with the Olympic Champion in canoe slalom in C-1 - specially for CanoeSport!
How did you get into canoe slalom? Since what age did you begin to paddle?
I started with my cousin in 1999, he was in junior team and he pushed me to start training.
Did you try yourself in the other sports?
Yes, I was playing in football and I tried judo. I preferred football - it was more fun.
Why have you chosen this sport?
I love the water that’s why I have chosen canoe slalom.
How much training do you have in flat water, on the white water and in the gym yearly (in percentage)?
I live in Marseille, there's no course for canoe slalom but there's sea and when I’m at home I have training on flat water during 4-5 months and I have physical preparation in Gym 2 times per a week. When I have training on white water, I balance with flat water approximately 50/50 and also, I make sessions in Gym 1 time per 2 weeks.
A question to motivate young athletes - What must be done to become an Olympic champion?
I don’t think there’s any secret. Everything’s in books. Training is important plus I believe that to be Olympic or World champion you need to get minimum 10,000 hours of training when you are athlete. This is the first requirement but also, you need experience in competitions. Olympic games and World championships are very difficult races; everything can break you and you have to adapt all the time. Adaptation is made of different experiences (I remember I had this, I remember I had that) you have to use all your experience and when you are at the start at the Olympic games you have 99 % to find good solution at the right time.
What is traditional slalom training in France?
I believe that the French team is exploring innovations all the time. That makes them strong.
In our preparation we are using science and technical innovations. Also, we have specialists in each race category and they are sharing the experience all the time. I think the sharing of experience is important. And we always know what other athletes are doing.
What do you do to prepare yourself for the main start of the season?
The main start of this year is World championship in Rio and preparation for this competition must have special steps, national selections, European Championship, World Cups 1,2,3 all these races are steps to find a good shape. You must use these steps to arrive to the best moment of the season at the World championships. But also, the World Championships is the step to Olympic games. And you need always think one step forward, I try to do that.
What are your favorite activities and hobbies?
I have my own business, it’s called Mule Bar. We are manufacturing special nutrition for sports and health. You can see more information here www.mulebar.ru
I think it’s one of my hobbies.)))
Tell us how do you get ready for the race? Do you feel nervous? How do you overcome anxiety and fear?
I wait, get focus then I try to concentrate on my body and try to relax to ensure a good start. The start of the run is important because if you started well you have a good thing and then you can do another good thing. If you started bad then you have to improve all the time.
What do you love most about canoe slalom?
I love speed between the gates and the challenge, of course. When you succeed it’s a great feeling, and when you do not, you are annoyed - that’s why I love it!
Do you need motivation to love sport and do your best? What/who motivates you?
In my career I had good and bad periods. In good period I enjoyed it but when I had a bad period I tried to find a right way to start to enjoy again.
Where are your friends from? Do you have friends from the other countries? You may say “Hello” to them! Take a chance!
My good friends are living in France. Also, I have friends from Spain, Slovenia, Slovakia, of course I’m sending to all of them Hello. In Russia I have no friends yet, but maybe they will be in a future.
Tell us about your trainings with Jean-Yves Cheutin.
Work with Jean-Yves was very intense but also it was a time for learning for me. I started to train with him when I was young and inexperienced and I finished work with him still young but already I was having big experience. I was 2 times medalist at World Championships in C-2M and one time I had a gold in C-1M, it was a major title. I can say that Jean-Yves helped me to improve a lot and bring my potential to reality and that’s a good ability for a coach and for a team manager.