Ken, the super gold medal-winning man, and no I’m not talking about Barbie’s Ken doll, (although he does have the physique to give the doll a run for his money) we’re talking with Australian Olympian Ken Wallace in the leadup to the Tokyo 2020 games.
Many athletes train day and night to obtain what only a few ever do – the coveted gold medal. Yet this superstar athlete is heading into the games with a gold (among other numerous medals) under his belt.
Most can get used to the rigours and the exhausting training regimes after a few years or a couple of Olympic games, yet most aren’t juggling being a father to three children at the same time, talk about upping the mental training game right?
Gold Coast born and bred Ken grew up swimming and training for the Ironman series, so how did he get into kayaking? We wondered the same thing, so we went ahead and found out for you. You might know the name and the face, but we asked Ken some quirky questions so you can get to know more of the person behind the accomplishments and the medals, even down to his favourite underwear.
Can you tell us a few fun facts, that maybe we don’t know about you?
– When i was growing up, I Always thought i’d go to the Olympics for swimming not kayaking.
– I didn’t event know what the sport was until the 2000 Olympics
– I have three amazing children.
How and when did you take up Kayaking ?
I didn’t start paddling a kayak until the age of sixteen; i only started paddling to help my surf ski paddling in the Ironman series that I was competing in. I was in Currumbin Creek on the Gold Coast when I took my first strokes.
Most people would know you for your Gold Medal final at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, could you give us a little insight into what it feels like at that moment and you hear that you’ve won Gold?
I always knew that the race would be close between the whole final. I didn’t look over until I had crossed the finish line. At the moment I knew that I had won Gold!! I was already happy with the Bronze medal I had won the day earlier, but this was next level. Standing up on the Dias with some of my closest friends but also fiercest rivals, seeing my family in the grandstand, watching the Australian Flag get raised are moments that I will never forget.
What does your training routine involve? And is there a certain part you find hardest?
The hardest part about the training is the first part – Getting out of bed in the morning. Once I’m up, it’s not a problem, and I know that I am there for a reason.
How much of a role does mental strength and training come into the life of an athlete?
After many years of training and racing, you work out what works best for you. Mind training, being able to overcome adversity or setback, is a critical attribute that professional athletes must endure to train. I always like a quote going into training and racing – Play to your strengths and work on your weaknesses.
What would you say is the best thing about living and training on the Gold Coast?
Training in your own backyard is every athlete’s dream. The Gold Coast has so much to offer with world-class training facilities, good weather and climate, other sports to keep the motivation high. Also, the beach to take some time out from training.
Do you feel as though you or your approach has changed in any way from the 2008 Olympics to the campaign for the 2020 Olympics?
Definitely, It is a very different approach, juggling life and responsibilities, three children and amazing family, keeping the roof over their head. I am also getting older, and my body adapts to different training these days. The mindset is still the same, though, go to win!
Jockey has come on board as a major for Sponsor for our Aussie Athletes for the 2020 Olympics, on a scale of 1-10 how confident do you feel in them?
I am 100% confident in them both because of comfort and fit, and in Jockey being a partner for the 2020 Australian Olympic and Para Olympic Team. Design, Comfort and Practicality are part of JOCKEY’s repertoire.
If you could design your own pair of Jockey Briefs, what would they look like?
There would be two types. I’d design an Australian theme underwear for the Olympics and a casual pair for after… They would have to come in smaller sizes for my kids as well because whatever Daddy gets the kids want too.
What does an average day in the Wallace household look like?
Hectic but a lot of fun! Training, breakfast, school drop-offs, work, school pick-ups, training, dinner, and pass out.. Wake up and do it again.
Would you say being a father has changed any aspect of being an athlete?
Definitely. Taking 2 of my kids to the Rio Olympics is a moment that I will never forget and probably one of my proudest moments.
Do any of your kids have similar sporting ambitions?
They are in the swim pool and surf on a daily basis.. As long as they are active, healthy and having fun, I am happy!
What does your ideal rest day look like?
Not having any plans!!!
If you had one piece of advice for any aspiring athletes, what would it be?
Have fun, smile and make friends with those around you. Say Please and Thank you to all the volunteers that make your sports function and don’t give up, Not always winning is a good thing.
If you are local Gold Coaster, chances are you will spot Ken training on land, water or gym (he’s there a lot) what he does is a tribute to hard work and dedication. He does it all with a humble attitude, gratitude, and a smile, and he does it all at the same time as being a father to three kids; Ken’s a real inspiration to all aspiring athletes to look up to.