Going for Gold in Rio: Petter Menning Pt. 2

Outdoors & Sports

Going for Gold in Rio: Petter Menning Pt. 2

Thirty-five seconds.

In just longer than the average commercial during the Olympics, Sweden’s Petter Menning’s hopes for an Olympic medal will be determined.

Menning, a sprint canoer, not only will be making his Olympic debut in Rio, but he’s also expected to compete for a medal with the likes of Canada’s Mark de Jonge and France’s Maxime Beaumont.

And in an event that lasts 35 seconds, give or take, and features finishes by the slimmest of margins, anything can happen.

photo via Petter Menning

Menning, who in 2013 became the first Swede to win the World Championships and European Championships in the same year, took time out of his busy training schedule to answer our questions – from a start when he spent nearly as much time toppled over in the water to becoming an Olympian.

Here’s Part 2 of our two-part feature on Petter Menning. (Click here for Part 1.)

Where do you train, and what is a typical training session like? Tell us about the ergometer and training when the climate in Sweden isn’t so friendly.

I usually train at home in Vaxholm, two to three sessions every day. During the summer I do two kayaking sessions and one gym or running session and in the winter, I do the same thing but on the kayaking ergometer in my house. We cannot paddle all year around in Sweden because of the ice, snow and low temperatures, but I don’t think that is a disadvantage. I am always starting the spring training season hungry for kayaking and strong after a winter on the ergo and on the cross country skis. I do about 15 session per week, some of them faster and some a bit longer. There is actually a lot of endurance training involved in process of getting faster on 200m, which comes as a surprise for many people, including some of my competitors.

When you were young, your grandparents compared you to a lion. And you’ve been using the #RoarToRio hashtag. Describe how you’re like a lion.

I am born in August, so my zodiac sign is the lion. I have always liked lions, and when I started working with a mental coach, the step to mentally compare myself to a lion wasn’t very far. A lion is always calm before a big hunt, and it always gives all it’s got to win the hunt, which is something I try to do when I race. I don’t get stressed before a race, some of my competitors get really nervous and spend hours at competitions going around getting pumped for a race, but I don’t have to do that. I try to take it easy, stay in the shade and remain calm until it’s time to race, and when I race, I only have eyes for the price, the finish line! There is no meaning for me to react to every little thing on a competition, I will save my energy for the race, like a lion would.

The 200 meter sprint takes about 35 seconds and features extremely close finishes. When a race can be won or lost by inches, what is the biggest key?

I think the most important thing to make the margins more on your side is to look at every part of life and try to make it as good as possible. I have been working on my training, of course, but also on my mental training, my diet, my sleep and other parts of my life to make sure I do everything I can to give myself the best conditions for success in the kayak. As for the race, you have to work on every part, the start, the finish, the techniques and so on to perfect it as much as possible. You cannot win simply by being fast in the start or having a good finish, everything is connected. 

photo via Petter Menning

Let’s finish with a few random questions… if you were competing in the Winter Olympics, what sport would you compete in?

If I could wish, maybe ice hockey. I like to watch a few games during the winter, and I really like ice skating!

What do you eat before your biggest races?

It depends on the time of the race, but the last thing I eat is usually a banana to get some new energy between warmup and racing. I always start a race day with oatmeal.

Pete the Meat – where did that nickname come from?

I got the nickname when I started competing in the k1 200m, the other guys thought I looked strong and big and the nickname has stuck since then. I don’t call myself Pete the Meat very often, but it’s not a bad nickname to be known by! 

If you could pick three places to kayak for pleasure or train outside, where would you be?

My first choice is always at home in Vaxholm, beautiful surroundings in the Swedish archipelago with good waters for training for miles. Vaxholm is just outside Stockholm, which also is a great city for kayaking, lots of water both outside and in the city, it is really cool to paddle by Stockholm City Hall. And my last place for great kayaking is of course Rio. I have a good feeling about the waters there.

What are three of your favorite songs to train to?

I like to listen to hip hop music during my sessions, and here are three songs that have been on my workout playlist for a while:

Jay-Z/Linkin Park: Numb/Encore

Swedish hip hop artist Ison & Fille: Ambition

DJ Khaled: All I Do is Win

Rank your favorite Swedes: Ibra, PewDiePie, Alicia Vikander, Avicii

  1. Zlatan!
  2. Avicii
  3. Alicia Vikander
  4. PewDiePie

If I were to travel to Sweden, what are the three things I absolutely have to do?

  1. Eat Swedish meatballs with Swedish mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam, it’s one of the things I miss most when being away from Sweden in longer periods.
  2. Visit the Swedish archipelago, take a boat out to one of the many islands and experience the great nature and calm.
  3. Fika! Order a coffee and some pastries. My favorite pastry is “prinsesstårta,” a cake with raspberry jam, whipped cream, vanilla and marzipan – it’s what I always celebrate a medal with!

Complete the sentence: Competing in the Olympics…

…will be a dream come true!


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