After finishing 13th in the K1 canoe slalom event at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Slovenia’s Eva Tercelj hopes her Olympic solidarity scholarship will help her challenge for medals in Rio this year.
How did you get started in canoeing?
Both my brother and I were introduced to canoeing by our father, who would sit us in his lap and take us up and down the river Soca. My older brother started properly training in canoeing first and, as a younger sister, I did whatever he did, so I decided to take up canoeing as well. My parents enrolled me in a kayak school when I was 7 years old – I made new friends and we all had fun because kayaking offered us lots of different challenges.
When did you realise that you had the talent to compete at the elite level?
Even though I viewed canoeing more or less as a fun activity, I was winning consistently even at a young age. The first real confirmation for me came when I was 16 years old, when I became world junior champion. At that time, I also started to compete at senior level, and was able to improve my ranking every year. Since 2011, I have also qualified for the finals of all the major senior competitions.
What is your favourite thing about canoe slalom?
I like the fact that canoe slalom takes place outdoors, where nature’s rules prevail and you can be free. You can simply take your canoe and paddle wherever you want.
What is the most challenging aspect of your event?
The fact that the conditions are always changing – the course is never the same and the water constantly changes, meaning that you have to observe it closely and draw upon your experience. Canoeing is an unpredictable sport and I like that.
What achievements are you most proud of?
I would highlight my world junior title, which was my first major result, my World Cup race victory in 2013, and competing at the Olympic Games, which is the dream of every athlete.
IOC / HUET, John
What are your memories of the Olympic Games when you were younger?
The Athens 2004 Olympic Games were the first that I followed. I found them fascinating since the Games originated in Greece and returned there after so many years. All the athletes amazed me with their performances and I never thought that one day I would be part of such a competition.
What was it like to make your Olympic debut in London?
Competing at the London 2012 Olympic Games was an experience that I will remember forever. The atmosphere is one you cannot experience anywhere else.
What would it mean to you to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games?
I really hope to compete at the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio. Although some of my dreams came true when I competed at the Games in London, I want to improve my result and aim as high as I can.
What are your targets for the future?
My aim is to improve the quality of my paddling, be faster and achieve greater consistency, as I want to be able to perform my best runs at the major competitions. The World Championships [in London in September] are my main goal this year.
How has your Olympic Solidarity Scholarship helped you?
I am grateful that the IOC recognised my potential and provided me with an Olympic Solidarity Scholarship. I’ve been able to use that financial assistance to provide better training conditions for myself, which is something that I cherish. With that assistance, I can train both better and harder.