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They say twins have a special understanding and this certainly seems the case for Peter and Pavol Hochschorner. The Slovakian brothers are the joint most successful canoe slalom Olympians – and they have achieved this feat in the same boat.
However, gold medals in the C-2 category at the Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Games turned into bronzes at London 2012 and now the 34-year-old duo are hoping for a return to the top of the podium at Rio 2016. And it seems that if they manage this, they will know how to celebrate it true carioca style.
“We’ve been to Brazil three times and we always feel very good there,” said Pavol, who along with Peter won gold at the 2007 world championships in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil. “We really like the country. We’ve even acquired the Brazilian habit of getting our friends together to have a barbeque. We’ve been doing this a lot at home.”
Coming third in London, where the host nation took gold and silver, initially left the twins feeling distraught. But while Rio may be their last chance to reclaim gold, they are not ruling out Tokyo 2020 altogether.
“We had a horrible sensation in London, as we didn’t perform well and we knew that one penalty could cost us a place on the podium,” said Peter. “But in the end, we were happy to have won a medal for Slovakia.
“We will be getting on by the time of the Tokyo Games, and we’ll see what our bodies tell us, but some older competitors remain active, so you never know.”
It is little surprise that Peter and Pavol have excelled in canoeing, considering their family background. Their parents, Peter and Gabriella, represented the former Czechoslovakia in canoe slalom, and their sister Eva is also a canoeist.
The twins began in canoe sprint, but decided at the age of 15 to move to slalom. However, in one of their first outings, Pavol fell out of the boat and nearly drowned. The brothers gave up the sport but, luckily for the canoeing, they decided to give it another go. Today, they are coached by their father, while sister Eva acts as their manager.
The brothers have also won six world championship gold medals, with a record-breaking four consecutive titles, but they do not take their success for granted. “The domestic qualifiers for the Rio 2016 Games will be very intense, as we have many talented Slovakian canoeists,” said Pavol.
“Once we have guaranteed our place, it would be great to win gold again. There’s a series of young competitors in our category and it will be interesting to face them. We will try to make our experience count.”