Hochschorner twins making waves for Slovakia
Slovakian twin brothers Pavol and Peter Hochschorner won three consecutive Olympic gold medals in the C-2 canoe double competition between 2000 and 2008. They are determined to make up for the disappointment of London 2012 – where they had to make do with bronze – by adding to their golden haul at Rio 2016.
Peter and Pavol Hochschorner were born into a family of canoeing enthusiasts in Bratislava (SVK); their father, who is also their coach, and mother had both represented Czechoslovakia in the slalom, while their sister, who works as their manager, has competed in sprint events for Slovakia. In fact, it was in that discipline that the twins initially took to the water, before opting for the intensity of whitewater slaloming.
“We have never raced with anyone else, so we have built up our own communication,” Peter explained at London 2012. “Most of the time we are just synchronised.”
Glory in Sydney
As they prepared for the final of the Olympic men’s slalom C-2 competition on 20 September 2000 at Penrith Whitewater Stadium near Sydney, Pavol and Peter, both 21, were in a confident mood, having previously been twice crowned European champions (in 1998 and 2000) and having won a silver medal at the 1999 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships.
The brothers proceeded to produce two excellent runs, particularly second time out, where their coordination and fluidity were on full display in a faultless performance. With the two fastest times, they claimed their first Olympic title, finishing comfortably ahead of Krzysztof Kołomański and Michał Staniszewski (POL).
In the years between Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, they continued to achieve striking results, amassing victories in several ICF Canoe Slalom World Cups, the 2002 ECA European Championships and the 2002 World Championships.
Gold in Athens and Beijing
On 19 August 2004 at the Hellenikon Olympic Complex to the south of Athens, Pavol and Peter put in a series of marvellous displays, impressing the watching public by posting the fastest times of the preliminary round, semi-final and final.
Further successes followed in the World Cup, European Championships and World Championships (in 2007 and 2009), and in the 2008 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. In the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park, they again emerged from the qualifying round with the best time, but they fell to second position after their semi-final run. On 15 August, however, the Hochschorners surged to a third successive Olympic victory, becoming the first competitors to achieve such a feat in the C-2 category.
During the London Games in 2012, the dominant Slovakian pair were taken by surprise by the potency of the challenges provided by the British duos of Timothy Baillie/Etienne Stott and David Florence/Richard Hounslow at the Lee Valley White Water Centre, and were forced to settle for the bronze medal after incurring a two-second penalty for hitting a slalom gate.
“It was a horrible sensation in London, as we didn’t perform well and we knew that one penalty could cost us a place on the podium,” said Peter. “But in the end, we were happy to have won a medal for Slovakia.”
Focus on Rio
The nine-time European champions and six-time world champions, who boast eight other medals at the Worlds and have topped the overall World Cup standings a record 10 times, will go in search of a fifth Olympic medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, when they will be 36 years of age.
“The domestic qualifiers for the Rio Games will be very intense, as we have many talented Slovakian canoeists,” said Pavol. “Once we have guaranteed our place, it would be great to win gold again. There’s a series of young competitors in our category and it will be interesting to face them. We will try to make our experience count.”