Rio welcomes canoe stars
The Lagoa Lagoon, at the heart of Rio da Janeiro’s south zone, provided a stunning backdrop for the Aquece Rio International Canoe Sprint Challenge.
With qualification places at next summer’s Olympic Games up for grabs, Artsem Kozyr and Volha Khudzenka underlined the recent ascendancy of Belarus paddlers with victories in the men’s C1 200m and women’s K1 500m respectively. Kozyr, who was recently crowned world champion in Milan (ITA), looks likely to be one of the hot favourites for gold next year in Rio.
Another rising star of the sport is the Czech Republic's Martin Fuksa, who held off a strong challenge from 2012 Olympic champion Sebastian Brendel (GER) to secure gold in the men’s C1 1,000m. The 22-year-old later followed up that triumph by taking third place in the C1 200m sprint.
Elsewhere, Portugal's Fernando Pimenta proved to be the best of a high-class men’s K1 1,000m line-up as he won gold ahead of reigning world champion, Rene Holten Poulsen (DEN) and former world champion Max Hoff (GER).
The Hungarian duo of Gabriella Szabo and Danuta Kozak showed their class in the women’s K2W 500m as they produced a stunning comeback to overhaul Germany's Franziska Weber and Tina Dietze.
Ronald Rauhe and Tom Liebscher took gold for Germany in the men’s K2 200m, ahead of Hungarian pair Sandor Totka and Peter Molnar, and Lithuania’s Aurimas Lankas and Edvinas Ramanauskas.
On the final day of competition, France’s European champion Sarah Guyot showed her quality by winning the women’s K1 200m ahead of multiple world championship silver medallist, Marta Walczykiewicz (POL).
In the men’s final over the same distance Ignas Navakauskas of Lithuania claimed his first ever international podium finish with a stunning victory over the Netherlands’ double world champion, Mark De Jonge.
The Czech Republic continued a successful few days as Jaroslav Radon and Filip Dvorak edged a tight race against Russian pair Victor Melantyev and Vladislav Chebotar by less three-hundredths of a second.
Earlier that day Rene Poulsen and Jensen Boe of Denmark bounced back from a disappointing showing at the World Championships by winning the men’s K2 1,000m ahead of Zoltan Kammerer and Tamas Szalai (HUN).