Slovenia’s Peter Kauzer, who bounced back from career threatening injury to secure Silver at the Rio Olympics, hopes his success will inspire a new generation of Slovenian paddlers, but first he'll aim to go one better in Tokyo.

Two years ago a seemingly innocuous slip up at the London Canoe Slalom World Cup threatened to scupper the 33-year-olds chances of competing at his third successive Games.

However, as it turns out, the resulting time off as a consequence of the severe shoulder injury had quite the opposite effect.

“I think the injury was the best thing that could have happened to me. It was tough at the time, but looking back it gave me something extra, it allowed me time to recuperate and I came back stronger than before,” said Kauzer.

The resilient Slovenian has had a difficult relationship with the sports premiere showcase, twice underwhelmed by his eventual position.

In Beijing 2008 he finished 13th dipping out at the semifinal stage;  this was followed by a disappointing sixth in London four years later.

Disappointing because he had become double World Champion (2009 and 2011) in the four years between the two Games, and such was the expectation of his nation as their number one medal prospect he was given the honour of carrying the Slovenian flag at the Opening Ceremony.

Perhaps both times the pressure – for different reasons – was simply too much.

However, in Rio the story was different, going into the Games Kauzer had stayed, for him, under the radar, with just a single podium placing from his 2016 campaign.

This low-key start meant the now familiar pre-Games pressure didn’t materialise; providing the Slovenian a freedom he hadn’t felt on the two previous occasions.

“I wasn’t even nervous at all,” he stated, talking about his Rio experience.

“In fact I was more nervous here competing today on my home course in front of kids from my local school than I was in Rio.”  

This newfound relaxed style allowed Kauzer to realise his Olympic dream, and as he puts it, complete his medal set.

“I was pretty happy to finally manage to clinch that medal,” he said.

“Third time lucky, or so they say.”
“I knew I was capable of winning a medal. It was close for the win but the racing was pretty tight. I’m just happy to get the medal.“

Reading between the lines, you still sense that Kauzer feels he could have perhaps gone one better.  A point underlined by his eagerness to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

“I’ve been in this sport for 26 years another four years is a short time.”

Kauzer will be 37 when the Games head east; but with his new sense of enjoyment from the sport he seems more motivated than ever to start the cycle all over again.

Canoe Slalom