03 December 2004
Iztok Cop, gold medal winner in the men’s double sculls rowing competition at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, is Slovenia's most illustrious sportsman and is now hopeful that his fifth Olympic appearance will come in just less than two years’ time at Turin 2006. Only this time it won't be about victory ceremonies and medals, but more in the original spirit of Olympic forefather Pierre de Coubertin – just to participate.
Winter fitness programme
Cross-country skiing was Cop’s first sporting love and he recalls that the only reason that he became an oarsman was because the rowing club at Lake Bled was much closer to his home than any of the ski clubs. After the Olympic Games in Sydney, where he won a gold medal, he added a huge amount of cross-country skiing to his winter fitness programme. He was surprised to find out at the beginning of the next rowing season that he was better prepared than ever and very fresh in body and mind, so he continued over the next two winters and it wasn't long before he found a new challenge…
“I am just curious to see what I can achieve.” Cop goes on to explain, “My plan has two steps: this winter I would like to earn enough FIS points to be able to join the World Cup circuit next year. Then I will try to challenge Slovenian cross-country skiers for a place in the Olympic team.” He admits that this will not be an easy task and that his biggest problem is his skiing technique - he has never had a real cross-country trainer and has adopted some rowing movements with his arms that sometimes make him look as though he is conducting an orchestra!
Medals at three Olympic Games
Nevertheless, he says that rowing is still his number one sport. “I might be late to be in shape for next season, but I won't be just a passenger in the boat”. Cop has won medals at three Olympic Games: silver in Athens, gold in Sydney and bronze in Barcelona, all in addition to eight World Championship medals.