What did you think when Ondřej Synek called you with an offer to race in Račice?
“That it’s going to hurt… (laughs) But of course it was a great idea from him. It was definitely worth coming here, even though it was a long journey, a 32 hour flight. It is nice that other great skiers Olaf Tufte, Iztok Čop, Dariem Campbell and Lasse Karonen will also come.
How did you train for the exhibition?
Basically nothing. I was on the water only twice in the last week, here Ondra lends me his boat so that I can take a ride for training. I’m not in the shape I used to be, that’s for sure. I quit rowing fifteen months ago, lately I’ve been taking care of my family a lot. As for sports, I did a few challenges on the mountain bike that I didn’t have time for when rowing, it was a nice change. But now I’m a financial advisor, which is a very different life…
Will your competitiveness reawaken on Sunday?
I’m looking forward to the race with my former rivals, in front of Ondra’s home crowd, but before that we’ll definitely have a few beers and have some fun. A World Championship in one’s own country is a special event, I experienced it in 2010 at Lake Karapiro, where Ondra beat me. We are no longer at the peak of our careers, but I am sure that there will be the right competitive spirit between us again on Sunday.
How would you describe your relationship with Ondřej Synek?
Our incredible rivalry lasted a long time. We have known each other since 2005, when we started racing against each other at the highest level. Skiff is an interesting discipline because you are very much alone. On the water, we were always irreconcilable rivals and did not give anything to each other.
Did the mutual rivalry push you both?
Absolutely, everyone wanted to work harder. We always tried to be better than the other, which pushed us ahead of the others, and we were both successful. Whenever I arrived somewhere, I knew that I had to be as well prepared as possible, otherwise Synek would beat me. It often happened that one of us was on the top step and the other right behind him, but a friendship was born.
We understood each other, we would find a lot of similarities in each other. My Czech is not good, but Ondřej has been improving his English over the years, so we started talking. It is important to be able to recognize and appreciate your opponent, then you talk to each other about how good you are…
Which duel do you most remember?
Most likely at the 2015 World Cup in France. It was a very, very close final. One hundred meters before the finish we were right next to each other, in the end it was 34 hundredths of a second for Ondřej and the finish photo had to decide. I then had it displayed on the wall for a long time and it was one of the factors that motivated me for the Rio Olympics.