Athlete of the MonthDecember 2018

Single sculling ace Ondrej Synek was Athlete of the Month eight years ago, just after he’d won his first World Championship gold.  He’s since won four more – and added three Olympic medals to his tally.  He tells us how some things have changed – but not the drive to win.

World Rowing: You were last Athlete of the Month in December 2010 – how has life changed for you then?
Ondrej Synek: I am about eight years older 🙂  My lifestyle is completely different – my kids have started to go to school and started to do some sports.  So sometimes I feel I’m more like a taxi driver than a rower.  Very important to me was finishing my masters diploma at university.

WR: How are you different as a rower?
OS: I think the most important thing is that rowing is still part of my life and I still like it. Trainings are very difficult sometimes, especially recovery in the last three to four years.  I need more time to recharge, but the positive side is less training.  

 WR: What have you learned since then? Are you still learning?
OS: Yes, I am still learning – especially in recovery, stretching and keeping a focus on my back problem. I should have stopped after Rio because my spine is not in good condition but everyday work keeps me going. 

WR: What has been your favourite race of your career so far?
OS: I think many races were nice to watch, some battles with Mahe (Drysdale) especially – and with others. But one of the best was the 2015 World Championship final.

WR: What have been your biggest challenges?
OS: Mahe Drysdale, Olaf Tufte and all the single scull family but I also have to say the German quad – Wilms, Hajek, Folkert, Sens when I started in the field in 2001 🙂 

WR: Congratulations on your World Championship silver.
OS: Thank you so much. I was very sad after the final because I made a stupid mistake a couple of strokes after the start and the race ended for me. But I was still happy to be on the podium and keeping my series of medals.  It has long been part of my life.

WR: Who is your biggest rival these days?
OS: Myself.  I’m training against myself these days and trying to be ready for spring.  

WR: What is your next big goal?
OS: I am focusing on the 2019 World Championships and qualifying for the Olympic Games. Then I would like to put all my energy into preparation for Tokyo and after that I will see. 

WR: What will you do over the winter season?
OS: Erging, skiing, strength and family. 

WR: And Christmas?
OS: I will stay with family in the mountains in our country chalet and enjoying the snow I hope.

WR: How do you relax and have fun?
OS: Relaxation and fun is no problem for me.  I am not boring and know where to looking for some activities. My problem is not having time for all these. 

WR: Which sportsperson do you most admire?
OS: I admire all sportsmen who are willing to train hard and race hard – and when they are not winning they still continue to train and race.