Hammer Throw Olympic champion Primoz Kozmus has found perfect warm weather training conditions in South Africa...
“December and the beginning of January continued to be extremely busy for me. I do not consider my achievements to be just a personal success and opportunity, but also a special responsibility and obligation.
“Therefore I decided to utilise myself and my results to promote and make a stand for a better situation of the top sportsmen in Slovenia. I even stressed those ideas at numerous ceremonies, where I received awards in December, including the best Slovenian Track and Field athlete of the year, the 2008 Sportsman of the year, and even the 2008 Personality of the Year, based upon a survey in one of the most prominent Slovenian newspapers.
“Of course that immediately resulted in another media boom, which required a lot of my time and energy that I should have during this time already been devoting to training.
“This is why I decided to go to my traditional preparations camp on the Croatian coast. However, to my disappointment I soon realised that the extremely low temperatures would not allow adequate training conditions. So I made an instant decision to join my track and field colleagues, 800m runner Brigita Langerholc and 400m hurdler Sara Orešnik, at winter preparations in South Africa.
“I did not know what to expect from a small town of Potchefstroom and its training centre. I heard a lot of compliments from my athletic colleagues, who have already been here. Brigita explained a bit about it on the plane. She described the locals as very kind, but warned me that the notion of time is not as significant for them as we are used to in Europe.
“I got a taste of this already at the airport, where I wished to eat a hamburger and immediately received what is now already a well known sentence: “Wait a moment.” The kitchen was crammed with about 20 locals, who seemed uninterested and their movements reminded me of watching a video tape in slow motion.
“There were no sights of the hectic activity that I could see on the streets and in restaurants at home, where everybody is eager to get, either their food or to their destination, as soon as possible. Anyway, I did get my hamburger. After 15 minutes of waiting, but still, I cannot complain, a slow(er) rhythm of life suits me fine.
“We got accommodated in a beautiful villa with a big garden and pool, only three minutes away from the training centre. The conditions for training are excellent.
“Almost everything I need (and more) can be found in one place. An athletics track on grass, fields for cricket, rugby, hockey on grass and a fitness centre with two pools with a temperature of 29 and eight C., which serve for a better circulation of blood and faster body regeneration.
“Because I didn't bring my hammers with me I searched for Mr. Tertius Liebenberg, a trainer of javelin throwers. After the first greeting he immediately congratulated me for my Olympic gold, which was a good confirmation for my efforts to improve the status of top sportsmen in Slovenia.
“He said: “Congratulations for the victory at the Olympics. It is a big success for you personally and even a bigger success for Slovenia. Individuals make small countries big!” The words of a stranger, whom I just met, are only a confirmation that I fight for the right cause.
“The second day I received the keys of a fitness centre, where only few can train. Also I had the privilege to join Andreas Thorkildsen, Tero Pitkämäki and Christina Obergföll. The hammers were brought to me to the training ground and they immediately ordered ten new wires for the hammer. I was received as a champion and a friend at the same time.
“The quality of training in such conditions and excellent company is at a very high level and therefore the decision to travel such a long way, was absolutely correct by all means.
“In this way I now continue my sports path. It is time to go training and show my personality which is faced with a big challenge that is written on the wall of our center: “Talent will get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.”