Q&A with Kopasz: no weaknesses, world record and Munich 2022

Published on 17 June 2022

By Catiana Rettenberger

2021 Olympic champion Bálint Kopasz is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to kayaking. The K1 1000m world champion from 2019, and silver medallist at the world stage in 2021 has taken the canoe sprint world by storm – all well before his 24th birthday. The Hungarian will be 25 years old by Munich 2022 and has answered our burning questions in an exclusive interview:

How did you get started with the sport?

My dad and my mom were kayak trainers. And at the age of eight they took me to kayak training, and I liked the atmosphere of kayaking. My parents trained 30 kayakers.

How have your parent’s kayak careers shaped yours?

It meant a lot to me that my parents had a serious sport [knowledge] of kayaking and were able to pass on their own experience and expertise.

Your success started at an early age, and you’ve already crowned yourself Olympic Champion (!). How do you deal with your success?

I feel like I handle my success very well since I know only work takes me forward and that never changes [anything] mentally.

Nevertheless, how do you keep motivated, having seemingly already achieved everything?

The motivation for me in the future is how I could better kayaking at 1000 meters. That is go in less than 3:20 seconds.

A time like that would surely change the game, as it would be breaking the world record, which Kopasz himself set at 3:20.643 minutes at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. It makes one wonder if it’s your favourite discipline, if not, what is it and why?

My favourite discipline is 500m, because as it is not very long, it’s not very [taxing]. But you can still be tactical and need strength and endurance.

What do you train on a weekly basis to have enough of that power?

The basic workouts for me are two kayak trainings per day. Most of this makes up my days. In the winter season I practice running, swimming and fitness (Gymtime).

How long do you practice, and are all of your sessions out on the water?

I train for several hours a day, mostly kayaking and conditioning workouts.

Which role does technique play in your workouts?

I rarely use technique, because I paid a lot of attention to tech in my childhood, now I don’t need it as an adult.

You seem to have the technique down; do you have a weakness?

I have no weaknesses in kayaking.

Is there a mental component to your sport and if so, how do you train your mind?

I don’t know that our sport requires special attention to the mental part. I never ask for the help of a psychologist. I believe in a lot of workouts that is the most important.

What is your most beloved achievement so far?

My favourite result is the Olympic gold medal since I worked since I was young.

In 2016 you didn’t make it into the Olympic final and in 2021 you won. What changes did you implement in those five years?

I was too young for the 2016 Olympics; I trained a lot in five years and as a result I developed.

No matter where you go some of the strongest competitors are from Europe. Can you explain why that is the case?

I think Europe has the safest environment, temperature, which is perhaps the most important thing for kayakers. Within Europe, there are the most competitive kayak and paddle companies, this also helps many people choose kayaking in Europe.

Who are your strongest opponents in Europe?

My strongest opponents are Fernando Pimenta (POR), Jacob Schopf (GER), Aleh Yurenia (BLR) and Adam Varga (HUN).

Tell us about your fellow countryman and professional canoeist Adam Varga.

He has very good stamina and physical abilities. Like most Hungarians he trains a lot and therefore does well.

Canoe Sprint and Rowing will take place on the Munich Olympic Regatta Centre in Unterschleißheim. It was built for the 1972 Summer Olympics and has stood the test of time. How does it feel knowing you’ll compete there for its 50th anniversary?

I have been to the Munich regatta track several times, due to a trip or training camp. It is in a pleasant environment, and I really like how clear the water is. My goal is to start at the European Championships in Munich.

What is your favourite course?

My favourite course is Szeged Maty-er. I love the atmosphere there and the Hungarian fans.

Is there something you wish everyone knew about Canoe Sprint? If so, let us know.

I think it is one of the most beautiful sports in nature. I see more and more young people choosing kayaking every year.

The European Championships will host nine Olympic sport’s European championships. Which other sports would you love to get to watch during the European Championships?

I would like to see the athletics, cycling and gymnastics.


Munich 2022European ChampionshipsCanoe Sprint