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A new life for Ivana Kmetova

A new life for Ivana Kmetova 23.2.2024

Slovak canoe sprinter Ivana Kmetova ended her successful sporting career in which she won medal at European and World Championships. She also competed at two Olympic Games, in Beijing 2008 and in London four years later.

Ivana Kmetova, who won more than ten medals at World and European Championships in K1 and K2 events, was trying to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in K4 event. In 2022, at the Multisport European Championships in Munich Kmetova, Dagmar Čulenova, Mariana Petrušova and Lisa Maria Gamsjagerova finished fifth and it looked well for their goals to qualify for Paris Games. "At that time, we only had a month's training and we were already among the best boats in Europe. I was convinced that after longer preparation together, our boat could be even faster," said Kmetova, who successfully paddled in K2 too. Lisa Maria Gamsjagerova, who despite her young age (born on January 8, 1999), then decided to leave canoeing, and Kmetova faced some injuries.
"I was sorry that Lisa didn't paddle last year. I myself didn't really get on the water because of lower back pains that have bothered me in the past as well. However, I did not give up, I completed various exercises and treatments that worked. But the doctor who helped me the most also warned me that all my problems could return if I started to train again," the two-time Olympian explained.
So, Kmetova was put into the position to decide whether to risk her health and return to canoeing fully or to find new challenges and live a different life. In May 2021, Kmetova gave birth to her daughter Ema. "The moment when I became a mother cannot be compared with anything," she said. She lives in Trencin with her family, and here, a new opportunity opened up for her and she started working in administrative job within the Ministry of Defence.
"The sports life, especially the top one, was demanding, but I liked it. It mostly brought me good times. I'm just sorry for how the Covid period disrupted my career. In the spring of 2020, I dared to fight for participation in the Olympics in Tokyo in the European 'qualification', because at that time I was in excellent shape," Ivana recalled the time when she usually finished around fifth place in World Cup races. And, unfortunately, she also missed out a place in Japan, which she could have won for the Olympics at the World Championships in Szeged 2019. She paddled in the two B finals, finishing 6th in the 200 metres event and 2nd in the K1 500. "My performance in Hungary at the time was marked by the illness I was fighting with during the championship. I originally wanted to prove to myself that I was still a serious kayaker, but I don't regret anything that happened to me at that time. I got pregnant with my trainer and now my life partner Rasť Kužel. We had a daughter before the Olympics, who brought us great joy. She already goes to kindergarten and is among the smartest children there, according to her teacher. Not me, because I have no way to compare them," said Ivana.
Her greatest achievements were made in K2 together with Martina Kohlova, now Gogolova. They won a silver and two bronze medals at World Championships and two gold, six silver and one bronze medal at European Championships. They were also on the podium of World Cup races. Individually, Ivana Kmetova won bronze medal at the 2016 European Championships in women's K1 200 metres final.