Hungary's grip on women's K4 will be tested in Szeged

It was previewed as the race of the 2017 ICF canoe sprint world championships, and developed into the race of the 2018 world championships – but can the 2019 women’s K4 500 live up to the previous two events?

In 2017 the decades-long battle between Hungary and Germany took on another dimension, with the exciting New Zealand crew adding further spice to what was already a highly anticipated clash. In a thrilling finish, Hungary tipped out Germany, with New Zealand third.

Last year the talk was of the clash between Hungary and New Zealand, with the Germans having fallen off the pace during the year. The final was a classic for the ages, as Danuta Kozak and Lisa Carrington, the two biggest modern-day names in women’s canoeing, took to the team boats to continue their incredible battle.

It was everything a headline race should be – a flurry of arms and paddles, a contest of muscle and might, as Kozak’s Hungary edged out Carrington’s New Zealand by just 0.010 of a second. It left eight athletes barely able to raise the strength to paddle to shore, and left a crowd emotionally drained.

Only once since 1977 has anyone other than Germany/East Germany or Hungary won World Championship sprint canoe gold in the women’s K4 500. The two countries have shared 30 consecutive gold medals between them from 1978 until 2018.

In 2015 the run came to an end when Belarus snatched gold ahead of the Hungarians and Germany in Moscow. Hungary and Germany/East Germany have also dominated the event at an Olympic level. Both countries boycotted the 1984 Olympics, and they have shared every gold medal since.

This year New Zealand, with Carrington sitting out the K2 500 to help her squad prepare for the big clash, is the team most likely to do what only one other country has managed to do in more than 40 years.

Their chances have improved with Hungary not naming Kozak in their boat, although the host nation did not have the two-time K4 Olympic gold medalist in their boat when they won in 2017, and they have already shown they have incredible depth.

This year, Hungary won the European Games gold, which of course New Zealand did not contest. Germany finished fourth, with Belarus taking silver and Poland third.

In world cup one in Poznan New Zealand took the gold. Hungary was absent, and Germany again finished fourth. France was second, Poland third.

At world cup two, with both Hungary and New Zealand absent, Germany took the gold while France and Poland again filled the minor placings.

The country most likely to upset the apple cart? Possibly Belarus, a very strong line-up which won silver at this year’s European Games, and has won bronze at the past two Olympics. The quartet of Marharyta Makhneva, Nadzeya Papok, Volha Khudzenka and Maryna Litvinchuk will not surprise if they finish on the podium

Poland and France also shape as the two countries who will be eying off a medal, even if it has to be bronze. They have been the most consistent performers this year outside of Hungary and New Zealand.

RIO 2016 OLYMPICS

Gold: Hungary

Silver: Germany

Bronze: Belarus

RIO 2012 OLYMPICS

Gold: Hungary

Silver: Germany

Bronze: Belarus

2018 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Gold: Hungary

Silver: New Zealand

Bronze: Poland

2017 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Gold: Hungary

Silver: Germany

Bronze: New Zealand

2019 EUROPEAN GAMES

Gold: Hungary

Silver: Belarus

Bronze: Poland

2019 WORLD LEADER

Poland

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