Athlete of the Month – September 2019
Polish sculler Katarzyna Zillmann is the 2018 world champion and a regular on the World Cup podium as part of the Polish women’s quadruple sculls. The 24-year-old does many sports but it’s rowing she wants to make an impact in – and she tells us how.
World Rowing: Congratulations on your silver medal at the World Championships. How was the race for you?Katarzyna Zillmann: It was tough! We had a great battle with the Dutch to the line. Congrats to the Chinese boat for their strong season. We are already excited for the racing next year.
WR: What are best parts about being the stroke?
KZ: The best part are my photos from the boat ha, ha. But seriously, it's a hard job with a lot of responsibility. I steer, run practice and try to set a good rhythm for everyone to follow. In real life I hate responsibility. I am not the first person you'd pick to care for your child or remember to pay bills, but when it comes to the boat and my teammates I love it.
WR: Why did you first start rowing? And why do you still row?
KZ: I was always a sporty kid competing in different contests and a friend who I met through my nephew who rowed asked me if I could do one race with them. They were missing one girl for a quad to race at Polish under-14 championships. Ten days before the regatta I got into a boat for the first time and after plenty of crabs during the race I grabbed my first rowing medal.
It took some time, but finally the coach made sure that I wasn't running away anywhere:) I'm grateful to him. Why I still row? I have always had a desire to do something big in sport. And I have to eat something ;)
WR: Where is your favourite rowing course and why?
KZ: Bled. It was my first international regatta and I was in awe with how beautiful it is there.
WR: What is your favourite type of training?
KZ: My favourite practices are when we play football. It's fun :) When it comes to rowing, I like to practice race pace. But, the most important, in my opinion, is a long row using more brain than muscles. For me rowing is mental.
WR: Do you do any other sport?
KZ: Our training consists of cross skiing, cycling, running, weights and swimming which all help to improve our endurance for rowing. For example, sometimes I even do cardio on rollerblades.
WR: How does your crew get along off the water?
KZ: #onlypositivevibes! But really, sometimes having fun together helps a lot to not kill each other :)
WR: How will you spend the winter?
KZ: I will try to be like our Polish cross-country skiing legend, Justyna Kowalczyk. And I will lift some weights.
WR: What is your next goal?
KZ: Survive winter camps. Always be focused on your nearest goals.
WR: What do you do when you are not rowing?
KZ: I eat a lot, that takes up a lot of time. Then I nap and if I have time I will meet up with some friends and we'll eat together. During a longer break after the season I go to as many electronic music festivals as I can.
WR: Which sports person do you most admire?
KZ: So many rowing legends like the Kiwi pair, Sinkovic brothers and Kim Brennan. From Poland, the Rio women's double and my first hero Julia Michalska-Plotkowiak. From my own close competitors, I admire Nicole Beukers, stroke of the Dutch women’s quad. She always gives her boat something special.