Athlete of the Month - January 2012
We start 2012 featuring a Czech woman who has been a junior World Champion, a three-time under-23 World Champion, has gone to the Olympics and is now a regular finalist at the senior World Championship level. She is Jitka Antosova and is World Rowing’s Athlete of the Month for January.
Jitka is currently living in Prague, Czech Republic, and mixes rowing with studying. She talks to World Rowing about rowing with her sister and living in a country which boasts two of the best single scullers in the world.
World Rowing: To start off, tell us a bit about your background in rowing.
Jitka Antosova: I heard about rowing from my uncle. I started rowing in March 2000 in Decin (my birth town). I wanted to try something new, not just spend my time with school, TV and chatting about nothing. Before I started rowing, I didn’t do any other sport. My coach in Decin, Mr. Vaclav Pazderka has an interesting style. He doesn´t accept half efforts. If someone wants to be good and to train he will help them.
WR: You also have a sister involved in rowing - Lenka. Is rowing a huge part of your family life?
JA: Jana (our middle sister) started rowing after me and then Lenka, the youngest. Our parents would not have heard about rowing if I hadn’t told them about this sport. My father likes sport and he does sport himself. But my parents weren’t sure if rowing was a good sport for girls. They told me, ‘you will get sore knees and back,’ and that’s true! :-) After one year of discussions I started and all of a sudden I found that it was great sport.
WR: Where are you at present?
JA: At present, and for all of January, I’m in Prague. I study at the Czech Technical University in Prague and we have examinations. I study, finish my project (on urbanism) and train.
WR: And was there a workout on Christmas day?
JA: Yes, there was a workout! Our family spends the Christmas holidays in the mountains.
WR: And what about New Year’s day? Any workouts?
JA: A little bit. Our car got caught in a snowdrift near the cottage, so we had to help get the car out of the snow. It was like doing an adrenalin sport, so not quite like rowing.
WR: What's the best thing about this time of year for you?
JA: Christmas. I like it because my family is together and around the cottage there’s lots of snow (usually). It’s time for fun and silly ideas.
WR: Early in your international career you rowed and were successful with Gabriela Varekova, how did you then start rowing with Lenka?
JA: After Gabriela came back from the USA (she studied for one year there) a lot of things were changing. It was not long until the Olympics. Then Lenka was better in the single at the trials in 2010.
WR: How does the dynamic work in the boat when rowing with your younger sister? Are you the boss?
JA: Yes, I’m the boss. But Lenka does what she wants and sometimes she can’t or doesn’t want to hear my advice. But she tries hard. It isn’t an easy position for me, but it was my idea.
WR: You won the under-23 World Championships in Racice in front of a home crowd in 2009. Describe the experience. Was rowing in your own country a motivator?
JA: It was a motivation. In 2009 it was a very difficult year in school for me. I had to do more subjects and rowing in the single scull was very easy and became a way for me to relax. After the final I had a good feeling. People, friends, family and those around me (coach, physiotherapist)were fantastic.
WR: The Czech Republic currently has two of the top single scullers in the world. Do you have aspirations to be in the single?
JA: Yes, I have, but in the Czech Republic I haven’t place. Do you know someone who wants me? :-)
WR: What has been your favourite race ever? And what about your worst race ever?
JA: Favourite: Banyoles 2004 – our (me and Gabriela) first gold medal. The worst race: I’m not sure, probably the eights at the Czech team’s championships. After first 250m most (6) of the girls and masters had no more power. The last 500m were terrible for me and Gabriela.
WR: Do you enjoy training or racing more?
JA: I enjoy racing in the single and sometimes the double. I like fast, short training.
WR: If you weren't rowing what sport do you think you'd be doing (if any)?
JA: I don’t think any other sport. It was because of luck, circumstances and chance that I started rowing. Instead I think I would be studying (as I am now, maybe better).
World Rowing: You mentioned that you are currently studying. Which university do you go to and which subjects do you study?
Jitka Antosova: I study at the Czech technical university in Prague, in the faculty of civil engineering. My programme is architecture and building engineering.
WR: How do you fit rowing training into your studies?
JA: Sometimes it’s too hard and very stressful, but I organise my time how I need to. Our coach accepts that, it’s the only way for good cooperation.
WR: Do your friends know about (or understand) your successes in rowing?
JA: Now, yes they do, but for a long time it was only friends from my class and home that understood.
WR: At the 2008 Olympics you had to pull out of racing. What happened?
JA: After the repechage I had a temperature.
WR: Has the outcome at Beijing influenced at all your desire to compete at the London Olympics?
WR: Will your training be different this year to other years as it is an Olympic year?
JA: It has been the same until recently (doing training together with school). But next semester I will have one, or a maximum of two subjects, so maybe it will different. I will have more time for resting and sleeping.
WR: What has been your toughest training session so far this month?
JA: Today: 25km on the indoor rower.
WR: What is a typical day like at present?
JA: Half a day I’m at school and the second half at the rowing club and evening (to midnight) I do homework and projects. This week I finished my project and examinations so now I have more time for training.
WR: Do you have any testing coming up?
JA: Today the coach told us about a 6km test, maybe it will be next week.
WR: What will be your first big race of the season?
JA: I don’t know, it’s too far away.
WR: What are your thoughts after London? Will you continue competing?
JA: It depends on many things. If I am in the same situation as now, I won’t continue.