Since 2000. they have not missed a single Euro Champs, and each one they stood on the podium. Counting their medals from the Euro and World Champs is quite a task because they are the team with the most incredible winning continuity in the rafting sport. They come from the Czech Republic, the Euro Champs competition is on their ground, so be careful paddlers, the female rafting team “Jazinky” are coming with no intention to change their tradition this time!
Another incredible thing about them, and what makes them stand out more, is one of the team – Jaroslava Hajkova – is 57 yrs and a granny! For her we can say that she is a true lover of the river. And as such, she deserves respect in every sense – a true role model and inspiration to other paddlers. We chat to her about her love of this sport.
You have been in competitive rafting for many years and yet you are still inspired to paddle. What kind of love keeps you going for all these ventures?
“From 18 up to 35 I’ve shared a canoe with my husband Standa (Stan Hajeks is a well known name in rafting). We have gone down a lot of European rivers. It has been a huge adrenalin experience. Today I’m not looking so much for a high adrenalin level; rafting is a team sport and adrenalin is shared among 4 – 6 friends. Competitive rafting in Czech takes place on the same rivers and artificial courses which I know very well. Representing the Czech Republic abroad (Ecuador, Japan, Korea, USA, …) always brings something new to me and it is a diversification of my competitive season. The most important thing is a nice group of friends which I love, with which I do rafting. We have common interest.”
Many good teams will be at the Euro Champs, but you are at home, do you see advantage in that?
“Well, it is a partial advantage. It’s fine to race at home. But there have not been any rafters there on the slalom course since 2003. Every year there is only one non-public race for canoeists. Czech rafters only know the downriver track, because it is a part of the Czech Cup. But, personally, my team does not like it. Additionally – during the Euro Champs race we expect a much higher level of water than there is normally. We went down the slalom course in 2003, so we know exactly how fast and strong it could be.”
Who is your biggest rival?
“Many women’s teams are equal, so 5 – 6 teams could fight for medals. We wish we beat the second Czech team, CZE2.”
The richness of this team is not measured only by the number of medals but numbers of the “moms” too, 5 of them in the first team for the Euro Champs! And one of them is a grandmother too!
Today’s team is R6: Jaroslava: 2 sons, 4 grandchildren; Hinges: 2 children; Peter, 1 ch; Market: 1 ch; Eva -2 ch.
How do mothers cope despite all the obligations which must be fitted into competitive rafting?
“The Rafting part of life is really difficult for a mum with children. It influences the whole team as well. We used to train from 6 am, now it is almost impossible with more and more children. Mums also need support and patience from their families. My children are adults, its my advantage and grandchildren I can have just during my free time.”
We know that rafting in the Czech Republic is amongst the best on the World stage, and that’s what makes them so good is the base popularity of water sports in Czech Republic.
” Tourist or racing kayaking and canoeing is just a step from rafting. And of course international success – it is the main motivation what drives the best teams forward.”
Than you Jaroslava Hajkova, a true example for us all!