Canoe Wildwater

For the first time in its history, the Wildwater World Championships were held in conjunction with the Canoe Slalom World Championships, and the result was an enormous success.

The beautiful Pau venue was a perfect setting for this first-time event, and the night time finals for the wildwater discipline proved popular with the athlete and the crowds alike.

And there were plenty of former world champions proving they were still top of their game.

Czech Ondrej Rolenc won his third World title and Frenchwomen Claire Haab and Claire Bren their second.

The French men’s C2 pairing of Quentin Dazeur and Stephane Santamaria defended their 2016 title, while Czech pair Anezka Paloudova and Marie Nemcova were surprise winners in the women's C2.

Rolenc had to hold off a challenge from Rio Olympic C1 silver medallist, Slovakia’s Matej Benus, to defend the titles he won in 2016 and 2014.

The final margin was 50.29 to 50.47 under lights at the Pau course.

“It feels crazy, because these days is too long, we are racing in the sunset and it is difficult,” Rolenc said.

“It’s difficult because of the effects of the lights. It’s a difficult race because there was more pressure.”

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Bren won her first K1 wildwater title in 2012, but was back to her best on the overcast Saturday night with a 51.73 run which put her just ahead of teammate Manon Hostens on 51.91.

“I didn’t know if I could win another World Championship, but it was possible,” Bren said.

“It’s incredible here with the French public. I manage to focus on my run. My heart was racing about 200 while I was waiting for Manon to finish.”

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Haab’s first C1 title came in 2015, but she needed something special to overcome defending World Champion, Czech Martina Satkova, in Saturday’s final.

“I am happy, it was a very good run,” Haab said.

“The crowd was fantastic.”

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It was a French trifecta in the men’s C2, with Dazeur and Santamaria winning by 0.62 seconds from teammates Tony Debray and Louis Lapointe.

“We’d had some difficulties with our last training here, but this week we just felt awesome,”Dazeur said.

“The crowd pushed us a lot, it made me go faster and faster at the end.”

There was a minor upset in the men’s K1, with Slovenia’s Anze Urankar upstaging teammate Nejc Znidarcic and Frenchmen Gaetan Guyonnet and Paul Graton for the gold.

Just one second covered the first four boats, with Urankar holding on to win by 0.39 of a second.

“I didn’t expect that, but I had a perfect run so I’m really happy about it,” Urankar said.

“I just wanted to make a good run. I didn’t want to think about possibly winning, but I had a good year.”

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Slovakia's Barbora Kortisova and Katarina Kopunova looked destined for silver in the women's C2, until Frenchwomen Manon Durand and Cindy Coat ran into trouble at the bottom of the course.

2017 Magazine