The ICF canoe marathon world championships get underway in Romania this weekend after a two-year forced break, with all the reigning world champions returning to action with the goal of also earning their country quotas for next year’s The World Games in Birmingham, Alabama.

The two biggest names in ICF canoe marathon history, South Africa’s Hank McGregor and Hungary’s Renata Csay, head a quality entry list in Bascov, which will see athletes from more than 30 countries take on short and classic distance marathon race in elite, U23 and junior classes in both kayak and canoe.

The three stars from the 2019 ICF world championships, Denmark’s Mads Brandt Pedersen, Hungary’s Vanda Kiszli and Ukraine’s Liudmyla Babak, will once again be the athletes to catch when racing gets underway on Thursday.

Pedersen created history in Shaoxing when he won both the men’s U23 and open classic distance races on the same weekend. The classic race this weekend will also feature minor medalists Jose Ramalho of Portugal and Franco Balboa of Argentina, as well as McGregor.

The 11-time world champion was forced to withdraw on the eve of the 2019 world championships with illness, and will contest the classic and the men’s K2 with Hamish Lovemore in Bascov.

Kiszli defended her women’s K1 classic title and also won the short distance gold medal in China. In Bascov she will once again come up against 2019 minor medalists Zsofia Czellai-Voros of Hungary and Lizzie Broughton of Great Britain.

Babak has dominated women’s canoe events since 2017, and will be chasing a fourth consecutive C1 classic title and will defend her short distance title from 2019.

Spain’s Manuel Campos will be aiming for his third consecutive men’s C1 classic title, and will once again face tough opposition from Spanish teammate Diego Romero.

Renata Csay arrives in Romania with 20 world championship gold medals to her name. This weekend she will aim to defend the women’s K2 title she won alongside Csellai-Voros in China.

Athletes will have the added incentive this weekend of earning quotas for their country at next year’s The World Games, when canoe marathon will make its debut as an official sport on the programme.

Denmark Mads Pedersen marathon world championships Shaoxing 2019

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