The ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships
Fantastic atmosphere, closer races and a number of medals for Belarus, Germany and Hungary
by Isti Miskolczy
image courtesy of Isti Miskolczy
This year, the Canoe Sprint World Championships returned to the wonderful city of Szeged in the southern part of Hungary for the fourth time in history. Lasting from the 21st to the 25th of August, these five days will be remembered, not just for the remarkable races decided by seconds and tens, but also for the encouraging and supportive atmosphere created by all the fans coming from various parts of the world. Besides cheering and watching all the heats and finals, the spectators could enjoy several other programmes during the whole event, like the air show or the fayre, for instance. Some people even described the whole championships as a smaller festival, and the closing remarks from international ICF officials contained huge compliments as well.
Having just one calendar year left until the Tokyo Olympics, it was highly important for the kayaking and canoeing sportsmen to qualify themselves for the most prestigious sport event in the world. The collective medal table was won by Belarus with 14 medals, totalling 6 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze overall. Germany also got 6 golds and silvers, but with only 1 bronze entitled them, ended up in second position, while third was taken by the host nation, Hungary with 12 in total – 5 gold, 4 silver and 3 bronze medals.
The performance of the Hungarians was dominant, especially amongst the women’s kayak as they won half of the competitions. Unfortunately, the fans had to miss the battle between Hungary and Belarus in K2 500m due to the disqualification of the former boat because of weight issues. After winning in the men’s K1 200m at the World Cup in Poznan, Poland in May, British Olympic Champion Liam Heath won again in the same distance, just a few months after. Meanwhile, Lizzie Broughton received a bronze medal for Great Britain in K1 1000m. We must also highlight the remarkable performance from 22-year-old Hungarian Bálint Kopasz, the World Champion of men’s K1 1000m, and New Zealander Lisa Carrington, who won in both 200m and 500m amongst the women kayakers, as did the Belarussian female duo and German Tom Liebscher amongst the men in 500m too. It is a little bit surprising that China has been so strong in canoeing in the past few years as they won four gold medals, two in both male and female canoers, with the same Hungarian duo in second place both times in the latter competition.
All in all, it was a very well-organized World Championship with a great atmosphere. It was extremely impressive to see such great diversity in both participants and spectators, and several individuals mentioned the astonishing and encouraging cheering. With a championship like this behind our back, it is believed that the Olympics in Tokyo will present us with even more heated competitions from the same sportspeople!