Great Britain’s Liam Heath has bucked the trend by becoming one of the only Rio Olympic medallists to win a title at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup 2 in Szeged, Hungary, on the weekend.

While most other Olympic medallists struggled in the bumpy conditions, Heath edged ahead from the extreme outside lane to win the K1 200 final.

The New Zealand women’s team continued its outstanding form from Portugal one week earlier, winning the K2 500 and K4 500 in slashing style, while Hungary’s Dora Lucz thrilled a capacity home crowd with an exciting win in the K1 200.

And the German Olympic men’s K4 team, comprising half the quartet who won gold in the K4 1000 in Rio, made a successful transition to the new Olympic K4 500 event.

Hungary’s Virag Balla and Kincso Takacs continue to impress in the women’s canoe events, once again winning the C2 500, while Canada’s Laurence Vincent-Lapointe won the women’s C1 200.

Lithuania’s Henrikas Zustautas, a B finalist in Rio, was another to win from the outside lane, taking the men’s C1 200, while Brazil’s Andrea Santos de Oliveira and Angela Aparecida Elias da Silva won the women’s K2 200.

Czech Josef Dostal made up for his disappointment from the K1 1000 final by winning the K1 500, while Ivan Shtyl, a multiple World Championships gold medallist for Russia, teamed up with Viktor Melantev to win the C2 500.

In the women’s K2 200 it was Ukraine’s Marila Kichasova and Anastasiya Horlova who took the honours.

Heath once again triumphed over France’s Maxime Beaumont, and admitted to feeling

“It’s quite nerve wracking coming in as an Olympic champion,” he said.

“You think you are the benchmark and everyone else is out to try and get you. But everyone’s out to try and go as fast as they can, and that’s what all I’m trying to do.”

After winning four gold medals in Montemor-o-Velho last weekend, the New Zealand women’s team adding another two in Szeged.

Double Olympic gold medallist Lisa Carrington again won the K2 500, this time with the K1 500 gold medallist from Portugal, Caitlin Ryan, and then joined Ryan, Aimee Fisher and Kayla Imrie to win their second K4 500 World Cup gold medal.

“Every time we jump into that boat I think we learn some more and we progress further,” Imrie said.

“As a crew, as soon as we jump on the water in that boat we block everything else out and stick together as a unit.

“Last week as a crew was our first race together, and we just wanted to progress from that.”

The German K4 500 crew was a mix of 1000 metre paddlers Tom Liebscher and Max Rendschmidt, and 200 paddlers Ronald Rauhe and Max Lemke.

“It was a good race, but we have some things to do to prepare for the Worlds,” Liebscher said.

“We have two guys who have changed from 200 to 500, and two who have changed from 1000 to 500, so I think it is a good mix and a good balance,” Lemke said.

Hungary’s Dora Lucz beat home three Olympic finalists to win the women’s K1 200 in front of an enthusiastic home crowd.

“I could hear the spectators, it gave me lots of extra motivation,” Lucz said.

“I’m always a little bit nervous before a race, but with the years I am starting to have a ‘good’ nervous.”

There were more thrills for the Szeged crowd when Virag Balla and Kincso Takacs withstood a challenge from Canada’s Vincent-Lapointe and Vincent to win back-to-back golds.

“It was hard because I felt this pressure because of winning four gold last week,” Balla said.

“We are friends and training partners, and we can speak openly to each other. So I think we are a good combination.”

Brazil’s de Oliveira and da Silva watched the Rio Olympics from the stands, picturing themselves competing at the Tokyo Olympics.

“We are very motivated to get the results that we need to get to Tokyo,” de Oliveira said.

“It would have been nice to have had the canoe in Rio.”

Conversely Lithuania’s Henrikas Zustautas was lamenting that his event, the C1 200, might not be on the Tokyo program.

He finished last in the C final of the C1 1000, and knows he won’t be able to do that event in Tokyo.

“I love 200, but it’s very bad if they take it away,” Zustautas said.

“I don’t know why. There is K1 200 men, K1 200 women, they have C1 women, why not C1 men?”

Laurence Vincent-Lapointe showed Hungary will not have everything their way in the women’s canoe events, taking the gold in C1 200. The Canadian said the possibility the canoe will be in the next Olympics is a great motivator.

“I kind of always wished and knew that it would one day be in the Olympics,” Vincent-Lapointe said.

“Now that it is more official, I am really set on going there, and I’m also set on being maybe the first woman to win this. That’s my goal.”

Czech Josef Dostal made up for a disappointing K1 1000 final to win the K1 500.

“I will go to Belgrade now and race the 500 and the 1000, because I want to restore my reputation in the 1000,” Dostal said.

“Yesterday I did race at all, and today I raced like a pig but I still won, so I am happy.”

Russia’s Ivan Shtyl and Viktor Melantev won the men’s C2 500, and also expressed disappointment about possible upcoming program changes.

“Unfortunately if things continue to move in this direction in four or maximum eight years canoe will disappear totally,” Shtyl said.

“Of course I feel very sad about this.”

Ukraine’s Mariia Kichasova and Anastasiya Horlova took out the K2 200.

Pic by Balint Vekassy

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