Hungarian Vanda Kiszli brought up a winning double and South African Andy Birkett caused a minor boilover by outsprinting Danish world champion Mads Pedersen in a thrilling final day of canoe marathon racing at The World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, on Tuesday.

2018 world champion Birkett achieved what few thought was possible – outsprinting two-time world champion Pedersen in a heart-stopping race to the finish to return to the top of the podium just 24 hours after he thought his career might be over.

Kiszli, a three-time world champion, also did not have everything her own way. For 20 kilometres of the 21-kilometre race Kiszli raced neck-and-neck with reigning world U23 champion Cathrine Rask of Denmark, sharing the lead and testing each other’s resolve at key moments.

For seven of the eight race portages Rask ran deeper into the portage to emerge first from the sand. But on the final sprint Kiszli flexed her muscles, sprinting harder than at any other time of the race to open up a decisive mini-break that the Dane could not close.

For two years I have been preparing for this race

The win fulfilled a dream the 28-year-old multiple world champion had been having for two years – double gold at the official debut of canoe marathon at The World Games.

“It was a tough race, quick, fast laps and a lot of portages, but I loved it,” Kiszli said.

“I thought she (Rask) would beat me, because she was so strong and her run was so fast. I just needed to keep up with her and let’s see what would happen. I think I had more energy for the last small lap.

“For two years I have been preparing for this race, I trained for this. It’s so hard, it’s one hour and 40 minutes, and you have to be focused all the time, and it’s a long time. I think I’m good at this, the focus from the start to the finish.”

Rask paddled a brave race, only succumbing to the might of Kiszli on the final lap. The 24-year-old said she dug deep to stick close to the Hungarian.

“It was an incredible race, I was just hoping to bring a medal home,” Rask said.

“She’s so strong, and so cool, it was nice to race against her because I haven’t raced against her over long distance before.”

To be honest, the last two years I’ve had many doubts

Spain’s Eva Barrios added to her silver medal in Monday’s short-distance with a bronze medal behind Kiszli and Rask, outsprinting a group of four on the final stretch.

“The pace that Mads was setting was insane. I had the goal today of trying to stay with him, and if I could stay with him until the finish, then I would feel like I won the race, because I don’t think anyone has stuck with him in a race for a while,” Birkett said.

“To be honest, the last two years I’ve had many doubts, and even yesterday I started thinking maybe not, maybe it’s time for me. But today was such a great race, I’m just really stoked to be back and racing.

“I just had to dig deep and try and stay there.”

Pedersen added the silver to his short course gold from Monday, while Spain’s Ivan Alonso took the bronze, giving the Danes two silver and the Spaniards two bronze on the final day of racing.



  1. KISZLI Vanda (HUN) 1:32:40.76
  2. RASK Cathrine (DEN) 1:32:56.66
  3. BARRIOS Eva (ESP)   1:34:16.65


  1. BIRKETT Andy                  (RSA)  1:23:52.83
  2. PEDERSEN Mads Brandt (DEN) 1:23:53.13
  3. ALONSO Ivan                   (ESP)  1:25:14.82

Pics by Balint Vekassy 

Hungary Vanda Kiszli canoe marathon 2022 World Games

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