An exclusive interview with the Hungarian sprint canoeist, the world champion in K-2 200m.
How did you become interested in canoe sprint?
When I was 10 years old I watched the 2006 world championships at Szeged. I watched how the «heroes» raced and it motivated me. By the way I was born in Szeged, so I imagined how cool it would be if actually I can race at my home town for my country once in the future, and then I started to paddle.
Did you have idols in your childhood?
I always say that we can see an idol in every person around us!
What kind of sports do you like except canoe sprint?
Actually I haven't tried any sport before the kayaking. But since then I want to try as much thing as I can. This year gives me a chance to see what I can do expect kayaking. My actual project is to learn horse riding. I always enjoyed the animals that’s why I liked to try this.
Another favourite hobby is the sailing. I learnt it 2 years ago, and this year I gonna race on the Blue Ribbon race. It is one of the most interesting races on the lake Balaton.
How and where do you train during the winter period? Which place do you like most of all?
In the past years I haven't used an ergometer, but since last year I got one from the KayakFirst. I used it 2 or 3 times a week just to keep the paddling movements. I liked it so much and it helped in my preparation. Easy to use, quiet and variable. I spend most of time at my home town. I have all the opportunities to prepare for the season (except the warm weather). If we go abroad for a training camp we usually go to South Africa and to Portugal to the Nelo training center.
I like both of them, but if you want to know more about me then I say I prefer South Africa, because it is much different than Europe and Hungary. It is all different. And I like to see different cultures. I get new impulse and it is very important for my life.
How does an ordinary day in your life look like?
My main work is my body. It sounds funny when I write it down, but it’s the truth. I have 2 or 3 trainings a day and I make my food mostly if I'm not in a training camp. I like to have a coffee between my sessions in the city. This is how I can manage my time and quality as best as I can.
If somebody follows me on the Instagram you can see that I spend a lot of time there. And I like to make my day «colourful» like do something new. For example now I’m making my driving licence for a motorbike.
What qualities bring success in professional sport?
In my opinion you have to make a plan for every step. You have to think for the future, but live in the moment. I think of myself as a maximalist (it is not always good), but this mentality pushes me further beyond my borders. You have to be proud of every movement you make on the water or in the gym.
How do you prepare mentally for a race? How do you stay focused?
I keep my mind clear when I get in the boat. I leave my ordinary life out of the boat and when I’m paddling I just think about paddling. That's all I need if I want to give a hundred percent of me. You have to do with passion what you do that's the key in my opinion.
What are your plans for this year? Do you want to come to Moscow on AAACUP? Last year you were a champion there.
We gonna have a nationals in the middle of August and probably Szeged gonna organize the world cup in September. Between these races I want to participate in Moscow AAACUP. Last year I got really good feedback (not just because I won) and I really enjoyed the organisation of the race.
Who do you think are your main rivals?
You can’t know who is gonna be good in the future. I always pay attention only to myself. But the men kayak racings are very strong. I feel that every year you can't know before the race who gonna win it.
Most athletes are ready to do anything for the sake of victory. What are you ready to sacrifice for the sake of a gold Olympic medal?
I'm not ready to do anything for the victory. I'm just ready to give everything out of me until I enjoy it. I can't do it for an Olympic medal. I can do it only for myself, because what I want is the perfection of my paddling. Until I'm not gonna make it I’m still searching the way how I can reach it. And maybe it's gonna deserve a medal.
Balasz Birkas - special for CanoeSport.