The 2021 Olympic champion, Bálint Kopasz, is a serious figure that you have to expect in kayaking. The K1-1000m world champion of 2019 and World Cup silver medalist of 2021 has taken the canoe sprint world by storm – all this well before his 24th. Birthday. The Hungarian turns 25 years old at the European Championships Munich 2022 and answered our questions in an exclusive interview:


Photo: © Elsa/ Staff/ Getty Images




How did you start the sport?


My father and mother were kayak trainers. When I was eight years old, they took me to kayak training, and I liked the atmosphere while kayaking. My parents trained 30 kayakers.


How did your parents’ kayak career shape your own?


It meant a lot to me that my parents could really understand kayaking and pass on their own experiences and knowledge.


Your success began at a young age, and you have already become Olympic champion (!) crowned. How do you deal with success?


I have the feeling that I can handle my success very well, because I know that only work takes me further and that doesn’t change anything mentally.


How do you still stay motivated after you seem to have already achieved everything?


The motivation for the future for me is how I can improve kayaking at 1000 meters. That is, driving in less than 3:20 seconds.


Such a time would certainly change sport, as it would break the world record that Kopasz himself set with 3:20,643 minutes at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. One wonders if this is his favorite discipline. If not, which one is it and why?


My favorite discipline is the 500 meters because they are not very long and not very [exhausting]. But you can still proceed tactically and need strength and endurance.


What do you train weekly to have enough of this strength and endurance?


For me, the basic training consists of two kayak trainings per day. That accounts for most of my days. In the winter season, I train running, swimming and fitness (Gymtime).


How long do you train and are all training sessions on the water?


I train several hours a day, mostly kayaking and conditioning training.


What role does technology play in your training sessions?


I rarely use the technique because I paid a lot of attention to it in my childhood, now as an adult I no longer need it.


You seem to have a good command of the technique; do you have a weakness?


I have no weaknesses in kayaking.


Is there a mental component in your sport and if so, how do you train the mind?


I don’t know if our sport requires special attention to the mental component. I never seek the help of a psychologist. I believe that a lot of training is the most important thing.


What is your favorite success so far?


My most beautiful result is the Olympic gold medal, because that’s what I worked for from an early age.




Photo: © DeFodi Images/ Contributor/ Getty Images




In 2016 you didn’t make it to the Olympic final and won in 2021. What changes have you made in these five years?


I was too young for the 2016 Olympic Games; I trained a lot in the five years and thus developed further.

No matter where you go, some of the strongest competitors come from Europe. Can you explain why this is so?


I think Europe has the safest environment and the best temperatures, which is perhaps the most important thing for kayakers. In Europe, there are the most competitive kayaking and paddle companies, which also helps many people choosing kayaking in Europe.


Who are your strongest opponents in Europe?


My strongest opponents are Fernando Pimenta (POR), Jacob Schopf (GER), Aleh Yurenia (BLR) and Adam Varga (HUN).


Tell us something about your compatriot and professional canon Adam Varga.


He has very good endurance and physical abilities. Like most Hungarians, he trains a lot and is therefore good.


Canoe sprint and rowing take place at the Munich Olympic regatta facility in Unterschleißheim. It was built for the 1972 Summer Olympics and has survived the time. What kind of feeling is it when you know that you are going there for the 50th anniversary?


I have been to the Munich regatta track several times, whether because of a trip or a training camp. It is located in a pleasant environment, and I really like how clear there is water. My goal is to start at the European Championships in Munich.


What is your favorite route?


My favorite route is Szeged Maty-er. I love the atmosphere there and the Hungarian fans.


Is there anything you want everyone to know about the canoe sprint? If so, let us know.


I think it’s one of the most beautiful sports in nature. I see that every year more and more young people choose kayaking.


At the European Championships, nine Olympic sports will hold their European Championships. What other sports would you like to see at the European Championships?


I would like to see athletics, cycling and gymnastics.

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