Manuel Campos doesn’t know how much longer he’ll keep competing at canoe marathons, but while he keeps winning world championship gold medals he can see no reason to stop.

34-year-old Campos on Saturday locked away his fourth ICF C1 world title, outlasting Czech Jakub Brezina and Russian Kirill Shamshurin to defend the title he won back last year.

The Spaniard has now moved alongside Hungarian canoe legend Marton Kover as a four-time world champion. Only Hungary’s Edvin Csabai with his six consecutive gold medals from 2005 until 2009 has been more successful.

Campos is paddling like a new man. He’s finished outside the medals just once in the past 12 years. Even when a crippling shoulder injury in 2017 threatened to bring his career to an end, he fought on and is now possibly in the best form of his life.

“I think only of tomorrow, of the next race that I do,” Campos said.

“It keeps me calm and happy. I don’t know how much longer I will keep going, but I am not thinking of finishing. I prove every year I can still be strong, but when I don’t enjoy it anymore, that is when I will finish.

“I love paddling. It is my life.”

Even though Campos was involved in an arm-wrestle with Brezina and Shamshurin for the entire race, it always looked like the Spaniard had it under control. When the time came to win the race, he delivered.

“I am very happy because this was a very hard race, from the start and the first three laps,” he said.

“The fourth and fifth lap was more relaxing, but then I felt strong on the last lap. The last portage was hard, but I was strong in the run and that’s when I felt that I could win.

“Winning for one year is very difficult, but winning one year and then trying to win another year is more difficult.”

Next year he will hope to move one step closer to Csabai as the most successful C1 marathon paddler of all time. If he can stay fit and motivated, no-one would dare bet against him one day becoming the most successful ever.  

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