Pics by Bence Vekassy

Cuba’s emergence as serious medal contenders in canoe events at this year’s Olympic Games was further underlined with two more gold medals ion the final day of the second ICF canoe sprint world cup in Barnaul, Russia.

The Cubans also picked up a gold in the men's C1 5000, giving the island country five gold medals for the weekend.

On Sunday they picked up gold in the Olympic events of the men’s C2 1000 and the women’s C2 500. Tokyo-bound athletes from Portugal, Croatia and Moldova won gold in 500 metre events, while there were also two wins for Germany and a victory for Sweden.

Teenagers Yarisleidis Cirilo Duboys and Katherin Nuevo Segura will make their Olympic debut in Tokyo, and could not have been more impressive in winning C2 500 gold in Barnaul on Sunday.

“My friend and I have trained very hard this season, so we are very happy to win here, but the race is not finished because now we are thinking about Tokyo,” Duboys said.

“We are very proud to have been selected to compete for Tokyo at our young age, but we are very happy to paddle together because we are also best friends.”

2021 ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup Barnaul Serguey TORRES, Fernando Dayan JORGE

Tokyo will be the fourth Olympic Games for Serguey Torres Madrigal, and his second with Fernando Dayan Jorge Enriquez in the men’s C2 1000. After a difficult year with very little competition, 34-year-old Torres said the win in Barnaul is a good sign ahead of Tokyo.

“We now have a very good feeling, we have been training a lot together for a very long time, so to come here and still be at the top is amazing” Torres said.

“Tokyo is very close. It’s been hard for the past year, but our boat is getting better every year. This time I think we will do good.”

Fernando Dayan Jorge Enriquez also won the men's C1 5000, surviving an epic finish against Mexico's Rigoberto Camilo.

2021 ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup Barnaul Joana VASCONCELOS

Portugal’s Joana Vasconcelos and Croatia’s Vanesa Tot both confirmed their Tokyo quotas on Friday, and celebrated with world cup wins in the K1 and C1 500 metre races respectively.

Having already made Croatian history by qualifying for the Olympics, Tot’s win on Sunday was another first for her country, after teammate Anamaria Govorcinovic earlier in the day won bronze in the K1 500.

“This is a big thing for Croatia, because never in the history of Croatia has any woman in canoe or kayak taken a medal, so the two of us have written history,” Tot said.

“I’ve been thinking about Tokyo a lot. I was excited after the race, but I didn’t know how to feel. Today I was thinking how big my results have been, how much work I have put into this.”

2021 ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup Barnaul Vanesa TOT

Moldova’s Serghei Tarnovschi is another who confirmed his place at the Olympics this week, and celebrated with victory in the men’s C1 500 on Sunday.

“I still don’t feel relaxed, because all the competitors came to this final trying to win a medal, so it was not easy,” Tarnovschi said.

“Today was a nicer day, but the wind made the race longer.”

2021 ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup Barnaul Serghei TARNOVSCHI

Germany’s Tamas Gecso and Felix Frank underlined their country’s depth in men’s paddling with a win in the K2 1000. Teammates Max Hoff and Jacob Schopf will start favourites for gold in Tokyo, but Gecso and Frank enjoyed their opportunity to paddle for world cup gold.

“It’s not easy racing the 1000 metres in Germany, I think everyone in our team can show the world we are good and strong.

“We can push ourselves to the limits all the time. We have such a good training group in Potsdam, which pushes us to the limit every day.”

In the mixed races, Sweden’s Melina Andersson and Petter Menning took gold in the K2 200, while Germany’s Peter Kretschmer and Ophelia Preller won the C2 200 gold.

Chile’s Maria Mailliard, who contracted coronavirus just six weeks ago, won the women’s C1 5000 gold, while Germany’s Paulina Paszek outsprinted Ireland’s Jennifer Egan to take gold in the women’s K1 5000.

The men’s K1 5000 was abandoned after a thunderstorm hit the Barnaul course mid-race.

2021 ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup Barnaul  Felix FRANK, Tamas GECSO

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