American Connor Baxter posted the fastest ever time for a men’s 200 metre sprint and France’s Olivia Piana won the women’s gold at her first ever sprint event in a thrilling day of competition at the ICF stand up paddling world championships in Qingdao, China, on Saturday.

Baxter shocked even himself with his speed in the semi-final, officially stopping the clock at an incredible 46.38 seconds – the first athlete to ever go under the 47 second mark.

“It felt fast, for sure,” Baxter said.

“The boys and all of us were pushing hard. I felt my arms cramping and I felt the speed was going good, but to say 46? No I did not think I was going that fast. To beat that today, it’s not just a great accomplishment, but to end up in first place.

“To win like this today is an amazing feeling, I’m really stoked.”

Italy’s Claudio Nika and Brazil’s Arthur Santacreu both posted times that would have won them gold on nearly any other day this year, but instead had to settle for silver and bronze behind the blonde bazooka from America.

“These races are intense,” Baxter said.

“Those short bursts, where it’s long burners and feel so bad in the moment. Like my trainer always says, if you’re not feeling like you’re about to throw up, you’re not going hard enough.”

France Olivia Piana stand up paddle world championships Qingdao 2019 SUP

Olivia Piana was also shocked after her women’s sprint final. Not because of her time, which was bullet-train fast, but because she considered herself a novice.

“It’s the biggest surprise because I have never done a sprint race before, this was the first one of my life,” Piana said.

“It’s nice to discover this format, and it’s an even bigger surprise to win it. I was so happy to make the final, I could see that I wasn’t weak. It’s so good to have the surprise of the win.

“I never did it before because I thought it was a bit boring. But now I think wow!”

Piana showed no ill effects from a grueling long race on Friday, when she battled hard to win silver behind Germany’s Sonni Honscheid.

“This is strange, but I feel that I am sometimes stronger when I race the day before,” she said.

“All the girls had raced the distance and were racing again, but I have this feeling that when I race and then race again, I feel pretty good. I just enjoyed the moment and did my best.”

Brazil’s Jessika Souza took the silver, with South Africa’s Tarryn King finishing in third position.

In other results, Germany’s Hannah Krah won the junior women’s sprint title, while Japan’s Kei Komatsuyama turned the tables on his teammate, Rai Taguchi, in the junior men’s final.

There was also gold for Japan through Takayo Yokoyama in the women’s 40+, while Spain’s Ivan Pena became the first ICF men’s 40+ world champion. China’s Jie Tao took the women’s 50+ crown, while five-time Olympian Martin Marinov of Australia won the men’s 50+ race.

Pics by Georgia Schofield



  1. PIANA Olivia        (FRA) 00:58.62
  2. SOUZA Jessika     (BRA) 00:59.17
  3. KING Tarryn         (RSA) 00:59.84


  1. BAXTER Connor   (USA)  00:46.38
  2. NIKA Claudio        (ITA)   00:47.26
  3. SANTACREU Arthur   (BRA)  00:48.79


  1. KRAH Hannah  (GER)  01:01.00
  2. LAI Shujing       (CHN) 01:01.65
  3. XU Haoting       (CHN) 01:02.21


  1. KOMATSUYAMA Kei  (JPN)  00:52.58
  2. TAGUCHI Rai               (JPN)  00:52.91
  3. YE Guitong                   (CHN) 00:54.67

Germany Hannah Krah junior stand up paddle Qingdao 2019 SUP

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