Multiple world title holders Nejc Znidarcic of Slovenia and Ondrej Rolenc of the Czech Republic became world champions again as class and experience showed through on finals day at the ICF wildwater world championships in Bratislava.

Italy’s Cecilia Panato returned to the top of the podium in the women’s C1 sprint, and Lise Vinet made it a fourth consecutive world title for France in the women’s K1 sprint.

Rolenc enjoyed a day out, winning his fourth C1 wildwater sprint title, and then teaming up with Daniel Suchanek to win the first ever C2 sprint world title for the Czech Republic.

“It’s pretty amazing, I still can’t believe it,” Suchanek said.

“If someone had told us we will win here, against all these teams who are so strong, I would not have believed it.”

“Here you need a lot of luck to make a good run, and today I made two very good runs, so I am satisfied,” Rolenc said.

Czech C2 Suchanek Rolenc wildwater Bratislava 2021

Three-time world champions Quentin Dazeur and Stephane Santamaria took the silver, while teammates Pierre Troubady and Hugues Moret took the bronze. Twin brothers and three-time Olympic champions Pavol Hochschorner and Peter Hochschorner bid farewell to their home fans with a seventh placing.

Rolenc said he had been contemplating retirement, but after adding this year’s title to the C1 sprint gold he won in 2014, 2016 and 2017, he is determined to go on.

“I think I will go to Treignac next year, and maybe after that I will say thank you very much for my whole career, and maybe then I will say goodbye if I win,” Rolenc said.

“I would like now to say goodbye, but Treignac is looking very nice so I would like to race there. I will wait one year and see then how I feel.”

French paddlers once again filled the minor placings, with Quentin Dazeur second and Charles Ferrion third.

Czech Ondrej Rolenc wildwater Bratislava 2021

Znidarcic made it three world titles in a row and a fifth overall in the men’s K1. He won his first world title in 2011, defended the title in 2012, and won again in 2018 and 2019 before adding the 2021 crown on Saturday.

“I was thinking a little about this before the season started, because there were four guys who all had four championship titles, and now I have managed to grab this fifth one, so I’m really happy with this,” Znidarcic said.

“This today was harder. I was so anxious before this race, and I don’t know why. It seems experience paid off today.

“I will keep going for sure, because I’m still enjoying it. You never get tired of winning, so until I am not competitive I will keep paddling.”

Yet again it was French paddlers completing the podium, with Luca Barone second and Maxence Barouh third.

There was some success for France, with Lise Vinet continuing her country’s extraordinary run of success in the women’s K1. Vinet became the fourth French athlete in the past four years to be crowned K1 world champion.

“It was not my best run, but it was my best for this week,” Vinet said.

“I am a world champion, it is such a dream. And this gold stays in France, it is so good to keep this title.

“I think when we see another French athlete win this event, we all want to do the same.”

Czech Tereza Kneblova took silver, and Germany’s Jil-Sophie Eckert finished with the bronze.

France Lise Vinet wildwater Bratislava 2021

Italy’s Cecilia Panato returned to the top of the podium in the women’s C1, after winning her first world title in 2018. Panato outsprinted the Czech pair of Tereza Kneblova and Martina Satkova for the gold.

“I was so nervous, so I can’t believe I am a world champion again,” Panato said.

“This course is so tricky for me, and there are so many chances to make mistakes, so that made me nervous.

“I haven’t been able to train that much because of coronavirus, and also I was training more in slalom then in downriver, so this result for me counts for so much.”

Two gold, two silver and a bronze medal on the final day gave the Czech Republic the award as the most successful team overall, while two medals for Ondrej Rolenc elevated him to the most successful wildwater world championships medal winner ever.

The 29-year-old now has 13 medals, one ahead of Slovenia’s Znidarcic and France’s Stephane Santamaria.

The 2022 ICF wildwater canoe world championships will be held in Treignac, France.

Pics by Dezso Vekassy

Italy Cecilia Panato wildwater Bratislava 2021

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