Is this the year Brendel loses his crown? Don't bet on it

The last time Sebastian Brendel was beaten in the C1 1000 at either a world championship or Olympic Games level was back in 2013.

People need to bear that in mind if they are considering writing the big German off ahead of next week’s ICF canoe sprint world championships in Szeged, Hungary. Sure, his form so far this year has been patchy, but Brendel is so experienced he always times his run to perfection.

In 2017 and 2018 he made slow starts to the season, but then when the big race came, put everything together to take another world title. This year has been the same.

Fourth at the opening world cup in Poznan, then fourth again one week later in the second world cup in Duisburg. It’s been a long time since the 31-year-old has been through a world cup season without a podium.

At the European Games he finally squeezed out a medal, a bronze behind Poland’s Tomasz Kaczor and Russian Kirill Shamshurin. It wasn’t a performance to fill fans with confidence, but next week will be a whole different matter.

Brendel is a two-time Olympic C1 1000 gold medalist, having triumphed in 2012 in London and in Rio in 2016. He’s won every world title over the distance since 2014, and every European title since 2011, with the exception of an unplaced result in 2013, and a silver medal behind Czech Martin Fuksa last year.

So is the crown ripe for the taking? Maybe… but who can step forward when the pressure comes on.

Fuksa is incredibly consistent, and very tired of winning minor medals behind Brendel. Silver behind the German at the last three world championships, his triumph in Baku finally gave the 26-year-old a taste of what it feels like to stand on top of the 1000 podium.

The Brazilian Isaquias Queiroz dos Santos has been chasing Brendel home since the Rio Olympics, finishing second at the Olympics, and third at both the 2017 and 2018 world championships. Still just 25-years-old, he has age on his side, but that may not be enough.

Speaking of having age on your side, the athlete Brendel, Fuksa and dos Santos will all be watching closely is still a teenager, but already has the scalp of all the biggest names in the sport on his belt.

Cuban Jose Cordova is just 18-years-old, and caused a major boilover when he flew home along the inside lane to beat all the big name athletes at the opening ICF world cup of this season. He didn’t compete in Duisburg, but made good his form at the junior world championships earlier this month with an impressive gold medal.

In Poznan he was unknown. In Pitesti this month he was expected to win. The question will be, can he withstand the pressure of a world championships, with the biggest name in the sport lining up alongside him.

Among the rest, France’s Adrien Bart landed the biggest win of his career when he took gold at the second world cup in Duisburg this year, a result that will fill him with confidence for next week.

Likewise Poland’s Tomasz Kaczor, who will find the field next week much tougher than the seven he beat in Minsk, but brings winning form into the world championships.

2016 OLYMPIC GAMES RIO

Gold: Sebastian Brendel (GER)

Silver: Isaquias dos Santos (BRA)

Bronze: Ilya Shtokalov (RUS)

2018 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Gold: Sebastian Brendel (GER)

Silver: Martin Fuksa (CZE)

Bronze: Isaquias dos Santos (BRA)

2017 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Gold: Sebastian Brendel (GER)

Silver: Martin Fuksa (CZE)

Bronze: Isaquias dos Santos (BRA)

2012 OLYMPIC GAMES

Gold: Sebastian Brendel (GER)

Silver: Figueroa Cal David (ESP)

Bronze: Mark Oldershaw (CAN)

2019 EUROPEAN GAMES

Gold: Tomasz Kaczor (POL)

Silver: Kirill Shamshurin (RUS)

Bronze: Sebastian Brendel (GER)

2019 WORLD LEADER

Martin Fuksa (CZE)

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