The exclusive interview with the SUP World Champion 200m ISA 2019.
How did you become interested in SUP?
I was interested in SUP from 2009 when I saw my brother Leonard competing in a race and winning it. After that experience I remember I fell in love with this sport.
What kind of sports do you like except SUP? What kind of sports have you gone before you started your career in SUP?
Since I was a child I practice many sports, first I was playing soccer and after that in the summer was practicing Surf and Skimboard after few years I was getting addicted with parkour but since I was getting a better athlete on SUP was to dangerous and easy to make injuries that’s when I decide to focus more on SUP Competitions.
What is it for you: waves or races?
You know in Italy we miss waves and especially for that I started to practice SUP with my brother when I was 13 years old in 2009. Soonest we had the possibility of moving from Rome to the ocean. The waves are everything for me. SUP is the best way to enjoy the water at 360°.
How many countries have you visited with your master classes? How did you achieve independence, that you can allow you to travel wherever you want and when you want?
I’ve been visiting 21 countries and the most of them I shared with my brother. He helps me a lot to find the right way and the last 3 years I had a possibility to have a sponsor who helps me with travel expenses.
How and where do you train during the winter period?
I train most of the time in the ocean and I switch with lake and surf. Right now I’m in Peniche in Portugal since 4 years I’m training here and organising SUP Camps with my brother Leonard. The first camp we started in 2018. So for everyone who wants to train with me here in Portugal just contact https://www.nikapaddlesurfcamp.com/
What are your favorite places for training, SUP racing?
Right now my favourite place to train is Peniche. It's also where I live right now. Here we can train in different conditions starting from flat water in the lake and practicing downwinds. The most important and funny part is the waves conditions here. We have the possibility to find good waves every day.
What is a normal day for you?
A normal day for me is waking up early most of the time at 7 am. I have a very good breakfast, check the conditions of the ocean and of the wind. Two sessions are usually my daily routine. I come back happy and glad to enjoy another day in nature, eat some fresh food from the ocean and sleep early and repeat.
What qualities bring success in professional sport?
The first thing you should have to get good in SUP is a real passion and determination. It is not because you just like but because it makes you happy everyday. No matter if you will compete or not, it needs to be your lifestyle. And to improve quickly you need to start from stepsю There are no shortcuts, just the experience in the water and training in the right way can make you reach the goal easier.
Who do you think are your main rivals?
Every year the sport grows and at the same time the competition with other athletes is getting harder. I'm not afraid of competing with someone. I just try to always pass my limits first. The guys to beat in the sprint race are for sure Connor and Casper.
What is the most prestigious SUP race for you?
There are many prestigious races on SUP right now but I think for the sprint category right now the most important races are APP, ISA and ICF world championships. Here I’ve earned my most important results.
What plans do you have for the next year?
First of all I hope that in 2021 there will be more races, I really wish to have the possibility to get back in a normal race season, after that I’ll try to make the most of it, I really like racing.
Claudio Nika - special for CanoeSport.