Nikos Kaklamanakis: "I fell in love with windsurfing at the Youth World
Championships"
The Olympic champion of 1996 and three-time champion of the World, Nikos Kaklamanakis shared the memories of his first Youth World Championships, gave advice to the participants of the World Championships in St. Petersburg and named the key aspects of preparation of the future Olympic champions.
In 1986, you participated in the first international competitions – the Youth World Championships. What do you remember about that regatta?
The World Championships in Switzerland where sweet and sour but unforgettable and dictated probably the rest of my life. Water fights during the last night in Switzerland after medal ceremony in a 3-4 star hotel was a highlight for us but not the hotel owners I guess. The Argentinians somehow broke into our room with a really big hose of a fire extinguisher, eventually not holdable by kid's arms, turning our whole 1st floor into a little swimming pool that ended as a party for most countries to join and a waterfall soon into the reception. I was feeling a bit lost and unsupported but I felt rich because I had a dream and faith in it. The atmosphere was fantastic, no big drama between nations, we were all mixing up easy! So I fell in love with the racing part of the sport as well.
Perhaps, there are future Olympic champions among the participants of the Youth World Championship. What advice would you give to all of them?
My advice will be to live every moment, it is so pure and unique like your first glide in the water, in order to do good have fun first, clever people play. Do not race others that much. Be the best you can. Sailing is not a sport of perfection as much as a sport of elimination of errors, we all made mistakes and still do! Accept defeat. Learn from it.
After your victory at the Atlanta Olympics, you were nicknamed "Son of the Wind". Do
you like it?

Yes, of course. I like it, it is a nickname by Greek people's hearts. But is not to my
advantage always: when we insisted on having our 6 year old that time daughter
covered with a warm jacket to avoid catching a cold by the strong winds on a winter day
playing outdoors. She replied: "Don't you know I am the daughter of the Son of the
wind?''. And after that kept running away from us.
You were the standard-bearer of the Greek team at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and lighted the Olympic flame in Athens in 2004 What does that mean to you?

Blessed and honored both times. With the flag I was the first athlete to enter the Olympic
stadium in Sydney of 80 plus. Especially being the last torch bearer at
Athens 2004 Olympics was a blessing for our sport too since I was the only Sailor I think receiving such an honour, the only Greek in history too.

Most of the time I was living a harsh life in order to live the big moment that rarely comes.
Sometimes the moment just comes to you I guess.
Once you've covered a 500-kilometres distance on your windsurf at the Aegean sea. What was the most difficult part of this journey?
Difficulties encountered mainly was extreme wind strengths in between the Greek islands from 6 to 38 knots,logistics organizing safety, visiting schools to motivate kids while being on my wetsuit sometimes. But mostly Physical-Mental and Psychological fatigue after the 6th hour till the 9th hour with no motorboat to refuel myself, due to big waves and super strong winds making too hard for the motor boats to approach me.
In 2008, you became the eights at the Beijing Olympics in RS:X class. How difficult was the transition from Mistral to RS:X to you?
2008 Olympics in China at 40 years old I had to start learn something nearly new from my 38th year of age, not easy but really interesting. Really close to medals till 3 races before the end, only to mess it up with a premature start in the medal race. RS:X was fun to sail from 8 to 9 knots onwards, but so slow compared to the Mistral in less than that, hard for the mind.

After the ending of your career in sport, you became a trainer. What achievements of your students make you proud?
I worked with seven kids in 2005-06 that changed their lives and mine too! I was training partners with the coaches of Alex Kalpo and a mentor to him as he calls me.My goal to them all are being better fighters not just winners. Out of the best he or she that has the least bad races will win, not the one with more 1rsts .Dorian is the perfect example, I was too when I was competing. Consistency through a mindset for winning program I will apply more of it soon to Byron Kokkalanis. His transition year is over now and can make a come back to the medals soon.
Name three main aspects of the young athlete's training.
First of all, train more specifically anaerobically due to a lack of enzymes before age 16-17. One step at a time. Secondly, find a purpose target with a meaning. And the most important – keep it simple and have fun!