Gaj Trcek – ski jumper with Tourette’s syndrome [part 3]

Author: Aga Pająk, Published:
gaj trcek

Gaj Trcek is a 32 years old Slovenian guy who was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome when he was 9. But this disease didn’t stop him, in 2008 in Planica he set his personal best on 193 meters.

It wasn’t easy. At the age of 9, Gaj Trcek was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome. Many parents wouldn’t let their kid to be a ski jumper, but Gaj’s mother made a different decision and that’s one of the reasons why he’s very grateful to her.

In first part [you can find it HERE] you were able to read about his diagnose and how he deals with the ticks. In the second part [HERE] you can see how he was treated by his coach and the reasons why he decided to be a coach himself.

“They didn’t want me to be a trial jumper in Planica due to my syndrome”

In 2008 they didn’t want me to be a trial jumper in Planica. A coach assigned me to jump there but then they said that they won’t allow me to jump due to my syndrome. Fortunately, they had changed their mind after that my coach assured them that nothing wrong will happen.
I jumped 193 m and everyone kept wondering who I was. Then they wanted me to be a trial jumper during the competitions but I did not accept their offer for all 5 days due to their first reaction that I’m bad and I can’t jump, etc.
I still have a video about that jump. You can hear that people are yelling as if I would jumped over 250 meters. For me it was something big.
My mom was there too. She knew what I went through in my life, all the negative things that happened to me. That is why we both got tears in our eyes when we saw each other after my jump. We were actually both crying. It was one of the bests days in my life. For me it was as if I would have won the World Championship.
But it was difficult with a coach there. He was kind of afraid of me because he didn’t have enough knowledge of my disease. He thought that I have no control of my syndrome, he did not realise that ticks are something that I did yourself.

“Before ski flying in Planica I didn’t need any allowence from doctors to jump.”

Before ski flying in Planica I didn’t need any allowence from doctors to do ski jumping. However, in Planica the organisers and coaches were afraid. I had no approval there from my doctor either. My only chance was my coach who told that I’m here for him. Doctors don’t know either what is happening when you jump so they can’t say yes you can or no, you cannot. They can prove that I need more time at test at school for example but they have no idea what happens while ski jumping. But then I had my mom who assured everyone that I am capable of flying and my coach agreed. That was all I needed that time. I trusted myself too. Hearing their opinion – my coach’s and my mom’s, I was sure that all will go well.

“Everytime I heard laughing I felt like someone would put a knife in my heart. “

This was one of the hardest things because when someone is different, people like to joke about it, especially when it’s something like Tourette’s syndrome that can seen as something funny. I think that because of my personality, because of who I am, I didn’t let people to joke about me. It’s also because of my mom who told that I’ve to be brave, that I must stand for myself. I have also managed several times to make people laugh but not because of my ticks. I was making fun with my teachers and then everyone was laughing. They could see that I’m a funny and a normal person. I might have helped because they started to treat me the same as others and told that the fact that I’m different doesn’t bother them. I have always been very specific about things, I was brave and told people about my syndrome and asked them to leave me alone if they cannot accept me the way I am.
I was very brave that time and there wasn’t many people that were making fun of me. However, I saw some jumpers laughing at me while warming up. It happened more than once and it did hurt me that time. Everytime I heard laugh I felt like someone would put a knife in my heart. It bothered me for a few seconds then I tried to concentrate again on my task. I think with right attitude, this disease is not that funny for others anymore . It is just important not to cry in front of people who laugh at you cause then you give them even more reason to make fun of you and think that you are weak. I think it is also the coach’s task to teach the lesson for those who laugh at other people.
I think that people who have Tourette’s syndrome has always something that they are good at. I was very good at sports but unfortunately only my second coach noticed that. The problem is that coaches in general were afraid of me and I always wonder that if it would have been different I might be participating in the World Cup now. But still, I’m very happy for what I’ve achieved – I jumped in Planica and landed on 193 meters. However, I feel that I would have been capable of more.

Gaj Trcek is into music. He went to X Factor and made it to the finals. That’s also a place where he wanted to wake people’s attention about Tourette’s syndrome and to show that people who suffer from a disease can also live a normal life.

“I wasn’t using drugs like some people used to think”

When I was at the X factor I realised that I must say something about me and widen people’s knowledge about Tourette. After the show I got many calls from people were who have kids with the same syndrome. They were asking for my help. Then we started to run a foundation which is actually a bit stuck now. But back then there were a lot of parents contacting me about there kids. They were thankful for me showing that people with Tourette can also live a normal life and even participate in the X Factor. My point was not to be the best because I knew my singing isn’t that good but I wanted to show people my disease. What i did was very helpful for some other Tourette patients. After that also the ski jumping world started to understand what’s going on with me and started to accept me as one of them. I think that the ski jumping world still remembers me even though I didn’t achieve big results. I think people realised that nothing was so wrong with me. They found out that I wasn’t using drugs like some people used to think.

source: own information
interviewed by Agnieszka Pająk