If there was ever a straight shooter, someone who tells it like it is, then it’s Nikola Karabatić. Here he speaks to us, with no filter.
He’s a true superstar in the world of international handball, a giant of the game, with two Olympic gold medals and four world championship medals with the French national side and he’s the star of the Paris Saint Germain handball team. He’s been International Handball Federation Player Of The Year a record three times, won three gold medals in the European Championships and the coveted L’Equipe Champion of Champions in 2011.
No doubt! Born in Niš, Serbia, he now lives in and represents France on the international handball stage. Handball is a family thing, for his father was a professional player, Nikola and his younger brother Luka play at the top level, so there’s no doubt handball runs in the family. He’s lived and played professionally in Germany, Spain and France. He’s a thoughtful and intelligent man, who speaks five languages and he’s articulate on the future of the game of handball.
No compromise! He juggles his busy life as a professional athlete and family man, with a new family member joining this August, and he always tries to keep things simple and in perspective. Nikola’s an uncompromising man, demanding the best performance of himself and his team, the sign of a real winner. As a brand ambassador for Gorenje, he recognizes that his performance on court requires the support of the team behind him, his family and of his fellow players. His support team at home, which helps him navigate and prepare for his professional and daily life, includes his Gorenje appliances.
No question unanswered! We caught up with Nikola just before the summer holidays.
Nikola, tell us what’s so special about handball?
N: Handball is my passion. I love everything about this sport, the speed, the toughness, the goals you have to score, the defense, the camaraderie, the teammates. It’s one of the most complete sports you can play and it’s a family thing.
What was your key to succes?
N: I think my mental toughness is my key to success. I’m a hard worker and a fighter, I never back down, always give 200% whether at training or during the games. I never lose focus or confidence and at the same time never take anything for granted.
Is there anything you are not good at?
N: Singing! I don’t like the sound of my voice and I would have loved to be able to sing nicely.
You moved around a lot, so how is life for you now in Paris?
N: I love my life in Paris. It’s the first time I live in such a huge city. I love going to the training by metro. Iove being in a city where so much happens and being part of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
What is your favourite Parisian habit?
N: I love taking my son to school with my bike and passing alongside the Tour Eiffel, I’m like a kid every time.
You’re a busy man, with a demanding sport and home and family life. How do you keep it simple?
N: I always try to remember how lucky I am to be able to live off my passion and to have the best family. I try as often as I can to see the positive in everything. All of that helps me to stay cool and simple and never take anything for granted.
What do you do with your free time?
N: Besides handball and all the ‘obligations’ around my sport, I spend all my free time with my family and my friends. They are the most important thing in my life so I give them all my freetime. I go play with Alek, take him to school, go to the park with him, play handball, football, ping pong, tennis. Whatever he wants.
How is it being a Gorenje brand ambassador?
N: I feel really proud about being a Gorenje ambassador. Like Gorenje, I also come from the Balkan region and I like to think we both represent the best things of the region. Constantly striving for the best performance possible and simplicity are also the values we share, so I totally identify with the brand.