The scene is set for several intense ICF Paracanoe World Championship finals after a day of close qualifying racing in Dartmouth in Canada.

Ukraine’s Maryna Mazhula and Germany’s Edina Mueller are set to renew their rivalry in the women’s KL1, after both comfortably won their heats on Thursday.

Mueller, the reigning Paralympic champion, had the fastest heat time, but reigning world champion Mazhula was less than one second behind in her race. Mazhula said getting to the world championships was a challenge.

“I’ve been training well so it was good to have a strong race,” Mazhula said.

“It’s been difficult for me, because my parents are in Ukraine, and every day there town is being bombed. I don’t know what is happening, it’s really hard.

“But when the race is on I just try and think about the race.”

In the women’s KL3, France’s Nelia Barbosa and Great Britain’s Laura Sugar both won their heats, with the British Paralympic champion recording a time just 0.12 seconds quicker that Barbosa.

The men’s VL2 could come down to a race between two Brazilians, with former world champion Igor Tofalini shading current Paralympic and world champion Fernando Rufino for the quickest time.

Great Britain’s Paralympic and world champion Charlotte Henshaw cruised into the final of the women’s KL2, while Hungary’s Katalin Varga overcame a disrupted preparation to also progress straight to the final.

“It’s been a very tough year for me, because I had an injury in March. It was a leg break, so it was a roller coaster year,” Varga said.

“I didn’t think I’d make it here, so I’m very happy now.”

Great Britain’s Jack Eyers is aiming to defend his VL3 world title this week, and looked relaxed in his heat win to book a ticket straight through to the final.

Eyers, who became a father for the first time nine months ago, said he was relieved to have such a strong result in his first international race since last year’s world titles.

“Definitely I felt a bit more ‘skitty’ then usual,” Eyers said.

“I’ve got a few other priorities this year, with the birth of my little daughter. What it means is my training has been more intense, it’s been more purposeful.”

Five paracanoe gold medals will be decided on Friday.

Pics by Dezso Vekassy

Dartmouth scenic paracanoe

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