Belgian Gabriel de Coster has won his first ever canoe slalom gold and Australia’s Jessica Fox extended her incredible run this season to four consecutive women’s K1 gold medals at the ICF World Cup in Pau, France.

Before Saturday 21-year-old de Coster had never even made a world cup final, but on the famous Pau course he upstaged his much better credentialled opponents to post an error-free run to claim his and his country’s first world cup gold.

"First final, first win. I am really happy. I know I can go fast, but did not know I can go that fast,” de Coster said.

“I knew the time was good enough for a medal, but athletes like Jiri Prskavec, Martin Dougoud still had to come. We never know, it can always go faster."

"The course was and was not difficult at the same time. If you can use the water, it was not difficult, but it's difficult to use it. I really enjoyed it. All the time it was in the movement, we didn't need to fight against the water. I really appreciate it."

Martin Dougoud from Switzerland, who won the 2020 World Cup race in Pau, won silver medal this time, 0.61 seconds behind, and France's Boris Neveu was third. Neveu won his only World Cup medal in Pau before today's success back in 2009, when he was second.

In the women's kayak final there were not many surprises. Australian Jessica Fox won her fourth K1 World Cup gold medal of the season, and also repeated her win from 2021 World Cup in Pau.

She had a touch on gate five, but she put down such a fast run, she finished the race 1.80 seconds faster than competitors despite the two seconds penalty.

"It's so special to take another win today and my fourth gold of the series. I couldn't have hoped to have a better end to the kayak," said Fox.

"I was definitely nervous for this final. I made a mistake in gate five, so I knew I had no room for error afterwards and tried to just push to the finish."

"It's such a physical course. I was absolutely exhausted at the finish line. I really like paddling in Pau. I've been coming here for many years. It feels a bit like home."  

Natalia Pacierpnik from Poland won her second World Cup medal in her career, like last year in Prague, she finished second. Tereza Fiserova from Czech Republic was third ina  very tight women's kayak final, only 0.70 seconds behind Fox.

On Sunday, the World Cup in Pau continues with canoe semifinals and finals, as well as extreme slalom final phases.

Pics by Balint Vekassy/Words Nina Jelenc

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