Source: Russian paddlesports website CanoeSport.ru (no proofreading)
The proverb says that habits become character. What are your every-day good habits?
Victoria: I am a very focused person, which helps me first of all in my sport but also in my every day life. It’s important for me to help people around me, who have less possibilities in life. They appreciate little things a lot, this makes you see what actually counts. I also think it’s important to have a positive mind and see the good in every situation. You should start your day with a smile, and don’t make a struggle out of your life.
Fernando: I've learned to be kind to people because now I know how to step on their shoes and everybody has problems, much of them not as visible as one that I have, but it doesn't mean they are smaller. Another thing I learned is to smile, and it makes a big difference on a daily basis.
Do you find time for everything you want to do? What are your priorities?
Victoria: My day is very planned and I have a very strict schedule, which keeps me very busy. But I think you should also find time for yourself and do things, which make you happy.
Fernando: It may sound strange, but the more creative and the harder we work, the easier it is to manage time. My priorities are training and sports because through my attitude in sports, canoeing or doing something people don't believe I can do such as skydiving, motocross, surfing a big wave, all of them have an important social role because through this priorities I break paradigms imposed by the society.
What is the best thing about canoeing? What is the most difficult thing for you in this sport?
Victoria: You spend your day always outside in the nature and I love to be close to the water. If you are in your kayak you feel free and strong. I love the competition and power of this sport. Sometimes I am struggling in the gym, but our coach is always pushing us. If you decide doing sports as a professional, you have to give up a lot from your private life. I am very lucky to have a very understanding family, friends and my boyfriend, who give me the best support I can ever have. To be successful, it is necessary to work hard and purposefully on your goals. It’s a very hard job and that’s why it would not work without this support to be in the best shape.
Fernando: The thing I like the most in canoeing is that, after the accident I had, I found back capacity and freedom sensations practicing canoeing. And, frankly, I can't find the most difficult thing in this sport because when I am in my kayak it feels like I'm walking on the waters. It seems like I can move my legs again.
What is the funniest recollection about canoe contests, regatta you participated in?
Victoria: It was in the World Championships 2011 when the Slovakian K2 won, and the guy from the back was smashing his paddle in the front and hit the head of his K2 partner!
Fernando: It was really interesting to see the cultural differences when I met an athlete from some African country, I don't remember exactly where from, who was trying to compete with something like a tribal stick in his canoe. Then the officials had to tell him it was not allowed.
Do you like to challenge yourself? What is the craziest thing you’ve done in your life?
Victoria: I think it’s important to challenge yourself because you have to improve every day. It motivates you as an athlete but it’s also helpful for your daily life. I was skydiving some months ago and I did enjoy it, which scares me a bit ;-)
Fernando: I love to challenge myself and this is exactly what feed me and makes me going on. And the two craziest things I did were skydiving and surfing the “pororoca” after losing the movements of my legs.
How and where did you meet each other? What was your first impression?
Victoria: We met 2010 in the World Championships in Poznan, and I was watching his ceremony winning the Gold Medal. My first impression was that he is such a positive person, who is always wearing a smile.
Fernando: We met each other in 2010, when I was competing my first Paracanoeing World Championship, and my first impression was “Wow! What a beautiful smile!”
You live and train in different countries and probably there's lack of time that you can spend together. Do you meet only during the competitions? Or maybe you go for vacations together?
Victoria: It’s all about time management. We know that we belong together and we always find a way to meet. He tries to train as many times as possible in the same training places where I am training, which makes our life more easy. Also after the last competition we have a lot of time to stay together.
Fernando: We try to meet each other every time we can, not only during competitions. It happens in Brazil, Austria, and I am always trying to meet her even when she is training in another country. But for the time we can not be together we are always using technology to make the distance shorter, so we are talking all the time.
How would you describe each other just in 5 words?
Victoria: Unique, crazy, positive, intelligent, strong.
Fernando: Kind, pure, careful, happy and wonderful.
What do you learn from each other and your relationships?
Victoria: Sometimes if you think you have problems, you realise that it is not a real problem. Everybody should enjoy the life and be happy and do things which you like and don’t waste time to be sad about small problems in the life. There is a solution for everything. What he passed through in his life is incredibly sad, but he is making always the best and growing more and showing to everybody with disability that anything is possible if you are focused and determined about what you want to achieve in your life. He can‘t change what happened to him, and he exactly know what he wants in his life to live happy. Everybody can learn from his positive attitude. Believe in yourself!
Fernando: I learned willing to make a family and stay together for the rest of our lives.
What are your plans for this winter? And for the next year 2016?
Victoria: We are training most of the time in Italy and after the last training camp in December, I will spend Christmas and New Years in Brazil before I am leaving to Sevilla in January – March.
Fernando: Асtually we are facing a really hot summer in Brazil… I know 2015 is a decisive year to get there strong in 2016. That's why I am always training the same way, strong and intense, focused in Rio 2016, but I can't forget the other responsibilities I have, like Fernando Fernandes Life Institute, where we received almost 1000 kids in 2014 to taste a little bit of canoeing and the power of change that this sport has. The same power that made me get up in the moment most of people thought I was finished.
What are the ideas you try to transmit to people? What do you want them to understand, to remember about?
Victoria: People should know that everyone can reach everything they want, as long as they set their mind to their aim. Nothing is impossible.
Fernando: I want people to understand that there is always a way to make whatever we want in our lives, but we gotta find a way to do it. The will and confidence have to come from ourselves.
If you could say or advise something to yourself 18 years old – what would it be?
Victoria: You should be more self confident and figure out what you want from your life. Don’t let other people live your life. Make your own decisions and your own mistakes. Learn to stay away from the persons, who let you down and stick to the ones, who want the best for you.
Fernando: I would tell myself to be more patient because in this life everything happens in the right moment.
- Also read: Portrait of Viktoria Schwarz: A kayak queen paddles towards a golden future