Athlete of the Month – December 2018
Single sculling ace Ondrej Synek was Athlete of the Month eight years ago, just after he’d won his first World Championship gold. He’s since won four more - and added three Olympic medals to his tally. He tells us how some things have changed – but not the drive to win.
World Rowing: You were last Athlete of the Month in December 2010 – how has life changed for you then?
Ondrej Synek: I am about eight years older :-) My lifestyle is completely different - my kids have started to go to school and started to do some sports. So sometimes I feel I’m more like a taxi driver than a rower. Very important to me was finishing my masters diploma at university.
WR: How are you different as a rower?
OS: I think the most important thing is that rowing is still part of my life and I still like it. Trainings are very difficult sometimes, especially recovery in the last three to four years. I need more time to recharge, but the positive side is less training.
WR: What have you learned since then? Are you still learning?
OS: Yes, I am still learning - especially in recovery, stretching and keeping a focus on my back problem. I should have stopped after Rio because my spine is not in good condition but everyday work keeps me going.
WR: What has been your favourite race of your career so far?
OS: I think many races were nice to watch, some battles with Mahe (Drysdale) especially - and with others. But one of the best was the 2015 World Championship final.
WR: What have been your biggest challenges?
OS: Mahe Drysdale, Olaf Tufte and all the single scull family but I also have to say the German quad – Wilms, Hajek, Folkert, Sens when I started in the field in 2001 :-)
WR: Congratulations on your World Championship silver.
OS: Thank you so much. I was very sad after the final because I made a stupid mistake a couple of strokes after the start and the race ended for me. But I was still happy to be on the podium and keeping my series of medals. It has long been part of my life.
WR: Who is your biggest rival these days?
OS: Myself. I’m training against myself these days and trying to be ready for spring.
WR: What is your next big goal?
OS: I am focusing on the 2019 World Championships and qualifying for the Olympic Games. Then I would like to put all my energy into preparation for Tokyo and after that I will see.
WR: What will you do over the winter season?
OS: Erging, skiing, strength and family.
WR: And Christmas?
OS: I will stay with family in the mountains in our country chalet and enjoying the snow I hope.
WR: How do you relax and have fun?
OS: Relaxation and fun is no problem for me. I am not boring and know where to looking for some activities. My problem is not having time for all these.
WR: Which sportsperson do you most admire?
OS: I admire all sportsmen who are willing to train hard and race hard - and when they are not winning they still continue to train and race.