France and Germany whet the appetite for what should be a thrilling women’s competition, while Germany was made to work hard to secure an opening win in their quest for a third consecutive men’s gold medal at The World Games canoe polo competition on Thursday.

Other teams to stand out on the opening day in Birmingham, Alabama, included France and Italy in the men’s competition, while Netherlands and Italy in the women’s draw both had solid first outings.

The German men’s and women’s teams both won The World Games gold in 2013 and again in 2017, but the signs on Thursday in Birmingham were that both teams will need to work hard if they are to retain their titles.

The German women’s team also won gold in the sport’s debut in 2005, and finished with silver in 2009. They opened their defence Thursday with a 5-2 win against New Zealand, before a fierce fight with co-favourites France ended in a 3-3 draw.

France had earlier cruised to a 10-1 win over hosts USA, with captain Claire Moal happy with her team’s start.

“We have two big events this year, this one and then the world championships, which will be at home,” Moal said.

“So our goal is to win both. It was important for us to see today where we are and where other teams are.”

World Games debutant Jule Schwartz had an introduction she will never forget, scoring four of her team’s five goals against New Zealand.

“It’s crazy to start a competition like that, it’s amazing,” Schwartz said.

“I was definitely nervous. But when the game started I was calm. But I couldn’t dream I would make a start like this, especially against New Zealand.”

The German men’s team had to work hard to take maximum points against New Zealand, recovering from 2-1 down to finally win 5-3. German captain Jonas Vieren said the first game was always going to be a danger game for his team.

“It was seriously hard,” Vieren said.

“We didn’t manage to get into any sort of flow, but in the end we could win 5-3, which is a good result for us. New Zealand have become much stronger now, they have some good players on the side and in the defence, so it was really hard for us to get some space.

“In the last year’s we have won quite a lot, but we are focusing on every match and I think we have teams here who are so good, so you can end up somewhere else then on the podium. We will need to fight for it, the only pressure is what we put on ourselves.”

Italy turned what looked on paper to be a close match-up against Netherlands in the men’s competition into a one-way romp, cruising to a 7-1 win, while France also enjoyed a day out with an 11-0 win over USA.

In the women, Netherlands had a surprisingly easy 5-0 win over Great Britain, and then beat Singapore 4-3, while Italy fought hard for a 3-1 win over The World Games debutants, Singapore, before beating Great Britain 4-3.

Pics by Balint Vekassy

Canoe polo action Birmingham 2022

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