Series25 Sep 2017

My greatest challenge – Stipe Zunic


Stipe Zunic in the shot put at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (© AFP / Getty Images)

Stipe Zunic was a surprise shot put bronze medallist at the IAAF World Championships London 2017. Here the Croatian thrower talks about his dislike of travel and how he best copes with the inconvenience.

Plane nuisance

“I have always struggled with travel and, to be honest, I don’t like planes. I’m a big guy, but because I never travel business class I end up searching for an extra seat by the window, so I can spread my legs out. Those long flights overseas are difficult for me as I don’t know how tired I am going to be for the days that follow the flight. It was a little easier when I was a javelin thrower, but now I am a bigger guy it is tougher on the body.

“I’m not that keen on flying and when I competed as a US collegiate athlete I had a bad travel experience. I was on a charter flight when the glass in the cockpit started cracking. We were forced into an emergency landing at a military base with a very short runway. So, when we landed we literally bounced to a stop. It was not a fun experience. It was pretty terrifying to not know what was going on. We had to wait for four hours for another plane but we couldn’t land that plane because of fog in Florida – it was such a frustrating experience.

“One of the toughest parts of travelling is the jet lag and that is something I’ve not figured out yet. I know if I fly from Europe to the US I’m usually fine, but coming back from US to Europe for four or five days on my return, I have no clue what I’m doing.

“To help me cope with the travel I like to read spiritual books and prayer is also an important part of my life. I also try to go with the flow and try to stay positive. If I have 36 hours of travel to, say, Rio then it is okay, no problem. I try not to think too much about it. I don’t like to worry about any situation I can’t affect. I just hope to sit down and hope time goes as fast as possible.”

Steve Landells for the IAAF