Kayak freestyle European Championships 2018

European Championships in freestyle kayaking are held every second year. This year we had the honour that it was held in Slovakia in Cunovo which is our local spot.

To have a competition right at your doorstep can be an advantage and disadvantage at the same time. Everybody has big expectations of you and that might put you under pressure. On the other hand you know the spot very well and can enjoy the comfort of staying at home.

Last time the Europeans were held in Slovakia was in 2014. Peter won the title of European Champion and I took Silver. This time we wanted to defend the titles as well. But sometimes situations are unpredictable and everything can change so fast! Some of you may know about my back injury from the beginning of the year. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to paddle at all this season. So, thinking about competing at the Europeans was something which I rather didn’t want think about. But after a couple of months of rehabilitation I was able to sit in my kayak again and managed a short preparation for this big event. Most of the time we train at our playspot alone which is a bit boring but this summer we could enjoy the company of many other paddlers at our whitewater course who had come to check out the venue. It may sound silly but this was one of the things which I liked most about this Europeans. It's always much better to paddle with friends.

Back to the competition. Slovakia hosted over a hundred freestyle paddlers at our whitewater course. I have to say that these Europeans were special because they were held together with Slalom juniors and U23 European Championships. So the amount of athletes at the areal of Divoka Voda was absolutely massive! Our competition started on Thursday with the men's prelims. Woman’s prelims were scheduled for the next day. Both, me and Peter advanced easily to the next round on top position. Semifinals were obviously more difficult because the top 10 athletes fight to get into top 5 finals. Me and Peter were really happy we were able to be in the finals and try our best to get medals. I put in some good rides and scored nice points. I really did fight to the last but it wasn’t enough to reach the podium. The other girls were paddling so well and I think they pushed to their limits as well. Surprisingly, I wasn’t sad. I know to get 5th at the Europeans is good achievement but once you have already won few medals you usually want more and more.

We athletes, are sometimes so focused on reaching our goals that we forget to enjoy what we do and what we love. Sometimes we even push the limits and forget about our health which in the end is most important. Without health we are not able to do our sport and live a full-fledged life. So this time I was just thankful to be able to paddle and train. To advance to the finals was the cherry to top of the cake. And Peter: Well, the men's finals were great. All guys paddled awesome and their scores were so high. Peter did great too but maybe not as good as he had wished for. In the end he took 3rd place. I was really happy that at least one of us took a medal back home. Now the competition season is over and we can enjoy our paddling for the rest of the year. We still have some big plans for the end of the year and are looking forward to our next adventure.