Kudejova looks to rekindle passion in Prague this weekend

With brutal honesty Katerina Kudejova reveals she’s not feeling at the very top of her game right now, on the eve of the first ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup of the season, starting in Prague on Friday.

“I'm feeling quite tired,” she admits.

“I had a great winter's part of training. I had been in Emirates and also in Australia. But then we come back to the Czech Republic and had to start the horrible part of training, in cold weather.

“We didn’t train in Troja (Prague), we changed clothes next to the car, it was horrible.”

But those who are prepared to write off Kudejova’s chances of victory in the K1 in front of her adoring home fans this weekend, do so at their peril. The 27-year-old has shown plenty of resilience in the past, and feels she has a point to prove after her 10th placing at the Rio Olympics.

The Czech went into the Olympics as the World Champion, had qualified fourth for the final, and seemed to be hurtling towards glory.

“I'm happy I have been at the Olympic Games,” she said.

“It was awesome, especially because I could experience the stay in the Olympic village with all the sportsmen and women, and I felt huge power from fans. And I saw huge tribune full of people.

“I would like to relive it. I'm just sad for my big mistake in the final. But It's sport and I was at the Olympic Games and I will never forget it.”

And even though she was unable to medal, she was stoked to see a new name on the podium.

“I was happy for Lukka Jones’ silver medal,” she said.

“I believe it will really help New Zealand slalom.”

After Rio Kudejova took her regular one-month break from the water, spending the entire time on dry land. And then it was time to pull the boat out of the shed again to get back into it.

At first, it was easy. 

“After this break I really look forward to start paddle again,” she said.

“It was easy to get back to the training.

“I was really very much motivated after the Olympic Games to try hard to get at another Games, but now I'm not so much motivated.”

That motivation will probably return when she arrives at Prague’s famous slalom course on Friday morning. Kudejova is already anticipating a few goose bumps. 

“I love to race in Prague, there are so many fans and they have fun,” she said.

“It’s not just Czech people, but everybody. It's a great atmosphere.

“And to win before so many Czech people is awesome. And I feel we have a little bit more of a chance here than in a foreign country.”

For now Kudejova is resisting the temptation to try her hand at C1, the new event on the Olympic program. She admits she would like to, but feels she’s left her run too late.

“The girls are really good, and if I start training at C1 now I never will be so good like they are.”

The ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup 1 begins in Prague on Friday.

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