Ján Volko: "Some tests were harder than the race."

JULY 24, 2023

One of the biggest stars of the Slovak University Team at the 31st FISU World University Games in Chengdu is undoubtedly the athlete Ján Volko. The 2019 European indoor champion has competed in two Universiade competitions despite pandemic years. In 2017 in Taipei, Taiwan, he won bronze in the 200m, and in Naples, Italy, two years later he missed out on a medal by 4 hundredths of a second(!), finishing fourth over the same distance.  He travels to his third University Games in Chengdu, China, with the highest medal ambitions.


You have been managing your student struggle for a few years now and China will definitely be your last Universiade.

“My student career started in 2015. So it’s been a while. I first started studying at the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology at STU and after three years I transferred to the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and I have persevered there until now. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree and now I am studying to be an engineer and I should be graduating slowly. I had planned to anyway, but next year is the Olympics. It’ll be easier to manage if I keep it separate, so I’ll drag school out for another year after the Olympics and hopefully finish my degree one day.”



One must not forget about life after career. Why did you decide to study?

“When I started college, I wasn’t getting the results I am getting now. Those came later. I didn’t plan to be a professional athlete, or rather I didn’t know that it would happen and succeed. Therefore, my choice was clear. I have always been inclined towards information technology and I wanted to give it a try and so far it has been quite successful and somehow I am managing. Of course, they are accommodating me at the school in a significant way. That’s important. The sporting life doesn’t last forever. You can get injured at any time and from one day to the next your sporting career is over. It’s not ideal to put everything on one sports card. You need to have a backup, something to live on once it’s over. It’s a completely natural process.”


You’ve already had your undergraduate degree. Which is more stressful for you the exams or the race?

I defended my undergraduate thesis online because of the coronavirus pandemic. I didn’t have any stress because I was in control of my work and I wrote it myself, which is quite unusual these days. I knew what I was getting into, but of course, when I compare it to some of the top events, some of the exams I took in college were harder than the race. It’s different because you can’t think on the track and you have to think on the test.




You brought home a bronze medal from the 2017 Universiade. How do you remember it?

“Overall, 2017 was probably the best year I’ve had. It started with an indoor silver in Belgrade in the 60m, then in the summer I won two medals in the 23s in the 100m and 200m, in between the World Championships, which I made it to thanks to my results in the 23s. The Universiade was the last stop, so I was properly tired and quite fed up. The special Universiade athletics programme includes intermediate races, so I had four 100k races and four 200k races under my belt. It was extremely challenging. It was in Taiwan, where it’s 35 degrees every day and 80 percent humidity. You walk out of a building and you’re wet without moving. I remember it very well. Also the success, the medal, or everything that we had the opportunity to see there. It’s not every day you get to go to the other side of the world and see the culture of another continent.”


The World Universiade athletics events are being held from August 1 to 6 at the Shuangliu Sports Centre Stadium and a total of 50 gold medals are being awarded.


Ján Volko will compete in the 200m sprint along with another Slovak Jakub Nemec at the 31st FISU World University Games. He is scheduled to race on that track on August 3 at 11:07 a.m. (05:07 a.m. our time). In case of advancement to the final, watch TV JOJ Sport on August 4 at 21:10 (15:10 our time).




Date and place of birth: 2. 11. 1996, Bratislava

Trainer: Naďa Bendová, Róbert Kresanko


Biggest achievements:

2019 – 1st place Indoor European Championships (Glasgow) – 60 m run

2017 – 2nd place Indoor European Championships (Belgrade) – 60 m race

2021 – 3rd place Indoor European Championships (Torun) – 60 m race

2017 – 3rd place – World University Games Taipei – 200m


Best time in 200 m – 20,24 sec.