I like writing about young athletes who are beginning their careers because I have the opportunity to watch and follow them from their very beginning. The R4 Euro Champs in Slovakia starts this week, and so we are writing about the Men’s U23 team that will represent Slovakia at this competition.
SVK 1 team will compete under the famous name of “Mistral”. The honour and privilege to defend the colours of their country goes to: Martin Janata, Matúš gewissler, Juraj Skákala, Matej Krempaský with coach Juraj Halama.
Will you have white paddles like the more famous Mistral women’s team?
“No, we will have plastic blue paddles, that we were given when we were 14 years old at a world cup in Germany. Although we finished 6th they gave us those paddles because of our skills at such a young age. (That was with different members in the team)”
The team started in June 2014, BUT already with big experience in white water kayaking and downriver. Thanks to unexpected circumstances they decided to try something new. So far they have no big results in rafting, but they believe that after the Euro Champs in Čunovo they will be changing that and they hope that it will be the best possible. I always like and respect so resolute an attitude.
In the open national championships in Čunovo about a month ago, you had a chance to try the track in a competition, what was the biggest challenge for you during the competition?
”To try to be the best as possible in slalom because it´s the discipline that we focus on. We wanted to do slalom without getting a 50 penalty. We were late for start of the downriver so our goal was to catch up with the rest, at that time.”
Tell me something more about carrying the raft in the downriver race? That’s what we had to do at WRC 2010 in the Netherlands and I know that it was not easy at all.
”We all hate that part of competition (carrying the raft), even running without the raft is awful.”
This is one of the biggest competitions in Europe with 70 teams (as many as attend the WRC!) will be competing at this event. What do you expect from this competition?
”So the main thing is to have fun, to get to know new people and race as best as we can. We don´t expect too much, but if we make some good results we will be pleased.”
Gorodky is a very unusual game that this team loves and you may get to see them playing it in their free time. Give it a try, I certainly will, and I hope that I’ll not kill anyone!
“At the end, we all want to thank MISTRAL SLOVAKIA for all their help and that they let us compete under their name.”
All these young people have great skill, technique and maturity that you normally only see in the Open category. With these advances the youth division can say that they can compete with any Open team. We were shown this by the Brazilian U23 team in Austria that was unrivalled in the Open category.
Slovakia has a strong national league, and at the same time some teams have held the throne for more than a decade. This team will have enough challenges in their own home country in the future, but right now they will have the privilege of competing in their home terrain. The competition for these young competitors at this Euro Champs is great, and soon we will see how they handle it. We wish them good