After two Olympic Games and three Olympic medals, Czech paddler Josef Dostal believes he knows what he needs to do to land that elusive gold.

Conquer his nerves. It sounds simple enough, but Dostal has no doubt pre-race butterflies have had an impact on his performances in the past.

He won silver behind Spain’s Marcus Walz in the K1 1000 in Rio.

“I was very nervous before the start, so now I have two Olympic Games behind me so now I know what to do and what not to do,” Dostal said on Friday.

“I know I don’t have to be so nervous, so we will see what will happen in Tokyo. But it will help me for the World Championships, because before the Games I was so nervous, so hopefully it won’t be the same before the World Championships.”

Dostal is through to the final of the 1000 at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Szeged, where he will get to test his nerves out against a crack field that includes Walz and current World Champion, Denmark’s Rene Poulsen.

“I don’t like the water here, because for me it is very tough,” he said after finishing second behind Germany’s Tom Liebscher in his semi-final.

“And the back wind, for a guy like me with this weight, it is very hard to compete.

“But luckily I made it to the final, and we will see tomorrow. I am sometimes very bad in semi-finals, but then I can show up in finals.”

Despite the nerves, and despite losing a very close final, Dostal looks back fondly on his Rio performance.

He took three months off after the Games, which gave him plenty of thinking time.

“After some time I think I did a good race,” he said.

“I don’t think I could have done better, although almost everything can be done better. I was a little bit disappointed, but also very happy for having a third Olympic medal.

“I moved on from that race one week after the Olympics. But Czech media always ask me ‘why didn’t you go a bit faster’.

The ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup 2 continues in Szeged this weekend.

Pic by Balint Vekassy

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