Shortly after breaking through for a long overdue win at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup in Duisburg on Saturday, Czech Josef Dostal was stung by a bee.

His opponents may have seen it as poetic justice, after the giant Czech left them stinging after a brutal 1000 metre final that decimated a star-studded field.

Dostal last triumphed in a major international K1 1000 race in 2014, at the Moscow World Championships, and has since picked up a sock drawer full of minor medals, including Olympic silver in Rio in 2016.

Last weekend in Poland 26-year-old Dostal finished third behind Portuguese world champion, Fernando Pimenta. He was satisfied; his coach, much less so.

“You know what I was most afraid of today? My coach,” Dostal said after his race in Duisburg.

“Last weekend I finished third, and I thought it was okay, a bronze medal to start off the season. But as soon as I reached the dock, my coach was yelling ‘what did you do, this is not what I told you’.”

With his coach’s tirade ringing in his ears, Dostal set off like a scalded cat at the start of Saturday’s final. His tactic was bold, possibly even foolhardy, but it had the desired effect. It blew the race plan of every other paddler out of the water, until eventually only the Czech was left standing.

“My coach told me I had to be with Pimenta on top, and not let him go in the first half,” Dostal said.

“I said ‘ok coach, I’ll try. But maybe I will die at the 500 metre mark, maybe at the 800 metre mark I was dying, but the other guys were dying too.

“Pimenta has been at the top for so long, and I wanted to bring him down.”

Olympic bronze medalist, Russia’s Roman Anoshkin, finished second, while Hungary’s Balint Kopasz took third ahead of a tiring Pimenta. The bee sting post-race hurt, but Dostal’s arms were hurting more.

“Compared to Poznan and the previous two years, I was pushing more from the 200 metre mark to the 500 metre mark, because I knew that was where Pimenta was always faster than me,” he said.

“Then I was dying, but he was dying more. This is my best strategy that I was able to perform until the last two or three years. I could do it in 500 metres, but not in 1000 metres. This is why I am not going to do 500 metre races this year.”

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