WR: How many coaches have you had throughout your career?
IC: Only one coach. That was Milos (Jansa). He was a club coach and a national team coach. After Sydney, I started to work a lot on my own. I was listening to myself. I knew what I had to do through the season to be fast in a boat. But off season, after the worlds, usually until the spring training camp I was more or less on my own. I did the same amount of work, or even more, but I changed the type of training. So I was more on the bicycle, cross-country skiing, doing outdoor sports. I tried to make my training fun. In the winter I was trying to avoid the ergometer as much as possible. I also joined Olaf (Tufte) on many occasions at their training camps in Norway.
I also tried to change the environment – that always helped. When we changed the venue for training or for racing, I could always perform much better at the beginning, because I felt refreshed. I think that helped make my career so long. I also did not have any injuries throughout my career so I was quite fortunate for that.
WR: What would you say helped you not ever having any injury?
IC: I don’t even dare to say what my rowing mileage was. In the last few years I could do many kilometres in one single rowing session. On the other hand I got into the boat quite late in the spring, because I didn’t need so many kilometres any more to make the boat run. After the season, after the worlds, I tried to avoid the boat as much as possible. I think that helped, as well as doing other sports, so that I wasn’t doing the same movements over and over again.
The other thing is that even if I did something wrong technically I’m not strong enough to be able to put a lot of pressure on my spine for example.
I was not very strict about stretching and warming up. For a very long time, for me that was a waste of time!
WR: How busy do your various roles at the Slovenian National Olympic Committee keep you? (Vice-president of the Executive Committee, Vice-president of the Athletes commission)
IC: I am much busier in these roles than I expected I would be when I ran for them. I expected it would also involve politics, not just strictly about sport, even though my position there should be as it is more professional and I am in charge of the competitive, or ‘top’ sports.
I’m eager to make some changes, to ‘update’ sport, because every few years you need to update the system, not change the system – I was never a fan of total revolution. It was the same for me in training, I added things to see how they would work, up or down, and then changed if possible or if needed.
WR: What led you to reintegrate the men’s double sculls in 2004?
IC: Probably I realised I had more chances to win gold in the double than in the single. After a few years in the single, I also got tired of the single, like every boat after a couple of years. Also after Sydney, that is why I switched back to the single – I had some unfinished business finishing fourth when I left the single. But also I was sure that if I kept on going in the double I would get tired of that boat class so I needed to change it. Even though it seemed like an irrational decision because it seemed we could keep on winning. But you could never say if that would really have happened.
WR: Which medal would you say was the most difficult to win?
IC: It’s hard to say. When I look back maybe I was under the most pressure in Sydney, or the whole year before Sydney. But that was because of me. I knew that was probably the only chance in my life that I would be the main favourite to win gold. Finishing second would be a big disappointment. That was a lot of pressure. I still remember after finishing the race that it was a lot of relief.
On the other hand, it was also quite hard in Athens four years later since I got really sick two weeks before the Olympics. I had high fever over 40°C for ten days. My doctor was also under a lot of pressure since I was under heavy antibiotics.