Aimee Fisher has rocketed into favouritism for Olympic gold in Paris after another nail-biting victory over the reigning Games champion and New Zealand teammate Lisa Carrington.

The match-up between the two New Zealanders was billed as the contest of the International Canoe Federation Canoe Sprint World Cup in Poznan on the weekend - and the race did not disappoint.

Ukraine’s Liudmyla Luzan issued a timely reminder of her class in the women’s C1, Portugal’s Fernando Pimenta returned to the top of the men’s K1 1000 podium, and Poland’s Wiktor Glazunow gave the home crowd reason to cheer in the men’s C1 1000.

Fisher has spoken how her road back to the Olympics has been unconventional, choosing to sit out the Tokyo Olympics. The now 29-year-old reminded the world of her class when she won the K1 500 world title just months after Tokyo.

And now in the space of two weeks she has twice beaten her New Zealand rival, and the undisputed Queen of the 500, Lisa Carrington. In Szeged she ran down the Olympic and world champion, but on Sunday in Poznan she went toe-to-toe, eventually squeezing out a win by just 0.05 seconds.

“I was so nervous this morning,” Fisher said.

“I woke up and felt like I could not do this, it’s too big. But I just went through the day one step at a time, through the warm-up, through the semi final. That was a tight race. We were on the start long for a very long time and I just had to be patient.

“I just really wanted to be courageous in the first 250. You saw in Szeged that I got quite far behind so for me today it was a real call to be bold and roll the dice a little and it bloody hurt in the last 200. I could feel it was close, I could hear people shouting. Wow, what a contest.”

Fisher said she is enjoying the match-ups against Carrington, but knows the bar will be lifted to another level in Paris.

“We have raced so many times now that it comes down to centimetres so you have to just treat every stroke with respect because you know she is going to be right there,” Fisher said.

“For me it was that calm, peace and trusting and I just imagined my family and my people shouting for me at home, praying for me and covering me. Just try to surrender to that.

“It's good to come out here and get the win but you know what, when the Olympics come around it will be winner takes all. From now, I need to reset as I have a lot of work to do and I am going to be working hard every single day.”

Liudmyla Luzan women C1 200 Poznan canoe sprint 2024

Carrington took the silver, with Poland’s Anna Pulawska more than three seconds back in third.

Portugal’s Fernando Pimenta is considered one of the greatest showmen in sprint paddling, and on Sunday he turned on a performance which took him back to the top of the podium after finishing third in Szeged two weeks ago.

The Hungarian duo of Balint Kopasz and Adam Varga were both missing on Sunday, but Pimenta left nothing to chance by leading all the way in the K1 1000.

“I am happy with the performance and feeling very good,” Pimenta said.

“Before the start, I am a little bit more nervous because over the last week and a half there has been hard training sessions. I think I made a good start and came with good power on the water, so I try to improve my technique and I think I do a great show fighting with the German and Swedish until the end.”

Germany’s Jakob Thordsen took the silver, with Sweden’s Martin Nathell the bronze.

Ukraine’s Liudmyla Luzan served a timely reminder of her class with victory in the women’s C1 200. Luzan won bronze in the race’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, and has had a disrupted Games cycle because of the ongoing conflict in her home country.

 But the Ukrainian showed she is back to top form with a hard fought win over home-town favourite Dorota Borowska, with China’s Wenjun Lin third. Luzan later picked up a bronze in the non-Olympic C1 500.

The reigning Olympic and world champions were missing from the men’s C1 1000 final, which opened the door for Polish paddler Wiktor Glazunow to claim a world cup victory.

Glazunow finished almost three seconds clear of the next best paddler, Germany’s David Bauschke, with another local paddler, Lukasz Witkowski, taking bronze.

The next major event for the sprint paddling community will be the Paris Olympics.

For all the results from today’s races, click here.

Pictures by Bence Vekassy

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