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Hungarian kayaker Kozak’s achievement of three gold medals at the Rio Games is a rare feat matched by just two canoe sprint athletes before her. She’s the first female paddler to achieve three golds in the same Games after winning the women's K4 500m.
Kozak and teammates Gabriella Szabo, Tamara Csipes and Krisztina Fazekas-Zur finished the K4 500m sprint in 1:31.482, ahead of silver medal-winning Germany. Germans Tina Dietze and Franziska Weber won silver together with Sabrina Hering and Steffi Kriegenstein. Dietze and Weber were also silver medallists in the K2 500m event. Bronze went to Belarus.
“I’m very happy. I think I need some time until I believe it,” the Hungarian triple Olympic champion in Rio reacted to the win. Kozak is now one of her country’s most decorated Olympians, having won five gold medals and a silver. Her two other gold medals in Rio came in the women's K2 500m on and K1 500m.
Germany’s Sebastian Brendel picked up a second gold medal in the men’s canoe double 1,000m, winning together with partner Jan Vandrey. The medal followed Brendel’s win in the men's canoe single 1,000m on Tuesday.
Brendel felt elated and relieved after his second gold in Rio: “It’s a tough, tough race and it's amazing that we could win the race. I’m just happy that the competition is over for me and I’m standing here with two gold medals.”
The Germans’ win meant Isaquias Quieroz dos Santos was unable to win Brazil's first canoe sprint gold. However, he and partner Erlon de Souza Silva held on for silver after leading for the majority of the race. Quieroz dos Santos is the first Brazilian athlete to win three medals at a single Olympic Games, having already won silver in the C1 1,000m and bronze in the C1 200m. Dmytro Ianchuk and Taras Mishchuk of Ukraine took bronze.
German paddlers Max Rendschmidt and Marcus Gross collected gold in the men's K4 1,000m to add to their men's K2 1,000m title. For the K4 the duo were joined by Tom Liebscher and Max Hoff. After winning his second gold in Rio, Gross said: “I know the feeling, but it's great to do it in the K4. It's unbelievable.”
Silver went to Slovakia, with the Czech Republic taking bronze. For experienced Slovakian Olympian Erik Vlcek, winning silver was still a great achievement, despite always aiming for gold over the years: “I’m 35 and this is my fifth Olympics and my third medal. It would been better if we had won, but it’s ok. I have two silver medals and a bronze so I’m fine. Every Olympic medal is a special feeling and it’s a special competition.”
Liam Heath from Great Britain won gold in the men's K1 200m to add to the men's K2 200m silver medal he won with partner Jon Schofield on Thursday. He was followed by Maxime Beaumont of France. Saul Craviotto of Spain added a bronze to his K2 200m gold medal. In the closest result of the whole regatta, veteran paddler Ronald Rauhe ended his Olympic career on a high by tying with Craviotto for third with an identical time.
Heath thanked coach Alexander Nikoronov for preparing him for Rio: “You dream about becoming a medallist at any Games you go into and we came into this one with the best preparation. Me and Jon Schofield both came into the Games the best we've ever felt, absolutely at the top of our game, thanks to the carefully planned training programme that Alex has been carefully putting together over the last four years.”