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Golden opportunity - Peter & Pavol Hochschorner, Canoeing


Olympic Review continues its countdown to the 2012 Games with exclusive interviews with stars of the 26 sports on the programme, who are targeting gold in London. The Slovak twins Peter and Pavol Hochschorner are three-time Olympic champions in the C2 canoeing class. Now, aged 31, they are targeting a fourth consecutive gold medal in London at the 2012 Games.

At what age did you start canoeing?
Pavol: Both our parents as well as older sister Eva competed in the sport so paddling on flat-water was an obvious progression for us from early childhood. However, we only started slalom canoeing in 1996. Then the very well-equipped Water Sports Park was opened in Cunovo, just a couple of kilometres from our apartment in Bratislava. We had excellent training conditions there and within two years we became the European Champions.

What are your best memories of your three Olympic gold medals?
Peter: In Sydney I was astounded how huge an event the Olympic Games is but how smoothly everything runs regardless. In Athens I felt very strongly that we were in the country where the Games began and defending our title was extremely emotional. In Beijing, due to a huge storm, the organisers had to postpone our final to the next day. This had never happened before and we were really nervous because of it but we were able to overcome those nerves and win a third successive gold medal.

How is your training progressing for the 2012 Games?
Pavol: Our training is very similar to what we have done in previous years. I do not expect any big changes in our preparations for the London Games. We will just make one change in our winter training programme. Last winter we spent less time than usual at our training centre in Penrith in Australia  and moved instead to Hellenikon in Athens, which, I think, was valuable for improving and varying our training programme.

What do you think of London as a city?
Pavol: We have never actually been there but we have read a lot about it and the fact that sometimes the weather is not so good! We just hope there will be no cold, rain or fog during the Olympic Games.

Who will be your main rivals for the gold medal in London?
Peter: First of all we need to win the domestic qualification contest for the only Slovak place in the Olympic C2 competition. We will face some tough opponents in the Ladislav cousins and Peter Skantars. Assuming we manage to qualify for London then our biggest competitors are usually pairs from France, Germany and the Czech Republic.

Who were your Olympic heroes when you were growing up?
Pavol: Slalom has been part of the Olympic programme since the 1992 Games in Barcelona when our compatriot Lukas Pollert won the C1 competition, which was very memorable for our entire family as canoeists. His victory was inspirational for me. The other big hero for me is Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, because he has been at the top for so long. As a triple Olympic champion I admire other champions because I understand what lies behind their successes.
Peter: I remember the Olympic victories of Slovaks such as athlete Jozef Pribilinec and tennis player Milos Mecir at the Seoul Games in 1988 but my biggest hero was US athlete Carl Lewis.

What music do you listen to on your MP3 player?
Pavol: I tend to listen to the radio and the style of music I like depends on my mood at that time. Peter: I do not need to listen to music before the competitions – unlike some competitors who use it to help get them psyched up. Pop music is my favourite but sometimes classical music suits me as well.

Do you use any social media?
Pavol: I created my account on Facebook, which I use to find old friends, particularly old schoolmates.
Peter: I have a YouTube account, but not much time to upload material at the moment. I have put just one video up so far – from a memorable winter car-ride in deep snow!


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