TRIATHLON Q & A: Jakša Diklić
With a countdown to EARTH, SEA,& FIRE race currently underway, everyone here at Triathlon Club Dubrovnik is working hard to make this first ever triathlon in Dubrovnik a success.
Many of our members are experienced in various triathlon distances and have raced all over the world. However, being behind the race stage for the first time – presents a whole new challenge for all of us triathletes, here in Dubrovnik. Triathlon Q + A aims to present some of our local triathletes and other people taking part in organizing this inaugural Dubrovnik Triathlon.
Q & A WITH JAKŠA DIKLIĆ
Jakša Diklić is 27 years old, up and coming Croatian triathlete who is presently 187th on ITU ranking list. A guy of little words, his eyes glow when speaking of his paragons and their achievements, or when praising the well-organized and highly reputed races. If you happen to wander around Dubrovnik’s beautiful surrounding, you might as well meet Jakša doing his daily chore of running, swimming or cycling. No wander Dubrovnikers are proud of the guy and have already nicknamed him “Ironman from Konavle Valley”.
Q: How did you become interested in triathlon?
A: In 1998 I watched Beijing Olympics and saw Jan Frodeno winning a gold medal. That was it. I was immediately attracted to triathlon’s diversity.
Q: Do you have any previous background in sports?
A: Sport’s been my main preoccupation since I was a child. I played water polo and basketball and was an avid fan of both team and individual sports. I studied sports science at Faculty of Kinesiology in Zagreb where I’ve earned a degree in professional coaching. If I didn’t engage in triathlon with professional ambitions, I would now be a professional sports coach.
Q: When did you actually start your triathlon training?
A: I begun running in 2009 and then ventured into triathlon, assisted by my coach Damir. From then on it was all training and races. During the last couple of years, I did some 25 Half Ironman races mostly in Europe, but also in USA and Canada.
Q: What’s your favorite tri-discipline?
A: I find all of them interesting and challenging in their own way. However, if I have to choose – it’s bike. I find bike-time to be the most interesting race segment.
Q: How many bikes do you have?
A: I use CERVELO 5.3 for long distances and GIANT for short distances. I admit my favorite part of tri-equipment is a bike wheel. (laughs)
Q: How about your daily training regime?
A: I do on average 6 hours of training per day, sometimes more. In the beginning, I used to have days off, but now my rest consists in having just 2 light training a day. Naturally, in a period of preparation for a big race, I raise the bar and train up to 9 hours a day. On an average week, I do 20 km swimming, 700 km cycling and 100 km running, plus 2 terms in a gym.
Q: Where do you train?
A: I mostly train in Konavle Valley where I have ideal conditions, practically right in front of my house. Konavle Valley has 40 km of macadam road, which trumps asphalt any day. As for swimming, I train in local water polo “Jugo” club’s pool and in the sea around Cavtat, whenever possible.
Q: With so much training, do you have any free time left?
A: Actually, I also work as a professional couch, mostly with triathletes and soccer players. This is how I earn money to cover my races abroad, equipment and so on. With this job and my training regime, I don’t have much leisure time left. I do, however, follow sports, sports matches and races or study champions training in order to more learn about their methods.
Q: How about this racing season?
A: This summer I came first at Ocean Lava Parenzana, in Croatia. I am currently preparing to do Ironman in Budapest on 28th June and then I have another Ironman in Embrunman, in French Alps, scheduled for August. My life’s dream is to eventually qualify for Hawaii. That’s my life dream and goal, to be among the best world’s triathletes.
Q: Your most painful experience ever was…?
A: A half year ago I fell during the race, fracturing my collarbone and three ribs. I also had a contusion of cervical vertebrae.
Q: Surely you spent some time in recovery?
A: Not really. I wore a figure-of-eight splint and was back on a stationary bike 15 days after the injury. My arm had to be immobilized but I begun running rather soon. After a month I went on with swimming as well. Obviously, I wasn’t derailed from the training sessions for a long time. Which is good, because I simply adore training. (laughs).
Q: So, what’s the best part of the race?
A: Finish! Especially when you’re among the winners. (laughs) It’s a feeling like no other. All the pains from the endless training and race course are forgotten. You get reassured and inspired and motivated to continue, all at the same time.
Q: In your opinion, what’s the decisive factor in triathlon races – psychology or physical conditioning?
A: I would say psyche is crucial when it comes to the actual race. Obviously, all the physical conditioning has to be totally perfected in training. But, once you’re on the race course psyche can make all the difference. Every triathlete knows crises are inevitable, even when you’re leading. All of us are very well aware that the last hour will be pure suffering. (laughs) One has to be 100% ready for this. I would sum it up like this: you have to have strength and endurance both in your mind and your body.
Q: For those outside the tri-world… what kind of bunch are triathletes? On and off the course?
A: Naturally, on the race course we are all very competitive and totally focused. And yet, the atmosphere during and around races is excellent. Everyone hangs out together, exchanging experiences and all. I actually didn’t meet anyone who is jealous of other competitor’s success. I guess it’s because every triathlete knows this is an exceptionally hard and unique athletic challenge. To tell the truth, nobody can understand a triathlete like another triathlete.
Q: Tell us about a relationship with your couch? Is he demanding?
A: Every good coach pushes you hard. Yet, we are on friendly terms and discuss everything whenever needed. Of course, I take his expertise and advice very seriously. If he tells me something has to be done – it has to be done, simple as that.
Q: How about your nutrition during preparations? Any secrets?
A: I have to look out for the sufficient intake of calories. When I’m in a normal training regime, this amounts up to 7000 kCal daily. My grandma is of great help here, though she never follows my races. (laughs)
Q: Do you have any sports paragons, people you look up to for inspiration?
A: Ivica Kostelić, definitely. And when it comes to best sports couch – it’s his father Ante Kostelić. I greatly admire their path. They stared literary from nothing and climbed to the very summit of the ski world. They had no money and no sponsors behind, nothing like soccer players, for instance. It’s astonishing to see what they accomplished by sheer will and discipline. As to the tri-world, I am a fan of Lionel Sanders from Canada.
Q: What was your most demanding race ever?
A: Elba 2013, without a doubt. We had a terrible rainstorm. Sea waves were so high that some competitors were thrown on the beach. When we came to the bike leg, the road was so slippery that one had to brake all the time and simply try to survive without injuries. When weather conditions are so bad, I believe the psychological stamina comes to the fore.
Q: Which race left you with the best memories?
A: Quebec. The race course was set in stunningly beautiful nature, the logistics and general mood were superb. I also like Klagenfurt. It’s a 30 years old race and it shows.