Czech Klara Kneblova picked up a record third gold medal as the 2023 ICF Junior and U23 Slalom World Championships came to an end in Krakow, Poland, on Sunday.

Kneblova won the women’s junior kayak cross title, to add to the C1 and K1 team titles she was part of on the opening day. No athlete has ever won three gold medals at a junior or U23 world championships.

Teammate Katerina Bekova won her first gold medal since 2017 when she took out the women’s U23 kayak cross final, while Sam Leaver for Great Britain and Michele Pistoni for Italy won the the men’s U23 and junior kayak cross gold medals respectively.

Kneblova finished the world championships with an incredible three gold, a silver and a bronze, to easily become the most successful athlete at a slalom world championships at any level. But she said fatigue nearly got the better of her on the final day.

“It’s amazing, I have no words to describe it, it’s beautiful and I’m so happy,” Kneblova said.

“Today the racing was really long, I was pretty tired on the start line, I was thinking can we go home? And here I am, happy with how it went.”

Czech Katerina Becova kayak cross Krakow 2023

Katerina Becova said she was shocked to win the women’s U23 final, as she had done very little training before the event.

“I didn’t expect this, I had five or six sessions before this, so I’m surprised,” Becova said.

“After the time trial I just tried to push it as hard as I could. That was the plan. In kayak cross I guess there’s always a chance to win a medal.”

Great Britain picked up gold and bronze in the men’s U23, with Sam Leaver finishing first and Jonny Dickson third.

Leaver said the pair had a plan going into the final.

“I’ve waited all week for this race at the end, and it went as well as it could have done,” Leaver said.

“It felt like ages watching the racing, waiting to take part. Me and Jonny, we both said we would leave each other alone at the first upright, so when I came in and he was nice enough to leave me alone.”

Italy Michele Pistoni kayak cross Krakow 2023

Italy’s Michele Pistoni is another late comer to the sport of kayak cross, but showed he has what it takes by winning the men’s junior final.

“This was really unexpected, it’s made my day,” Pistoni said.

“In the last years I never gave this race much importance, but this year I bought a boat, and I started to practice a bit, but I still didn’t expect to win.”

RESULTS

KAYAK CROSS MEN – U23

  1. LEAVER Sam (GBR)
  2. COLLIER Nicholas (NZL)
  3. DICKSON Jonny (GBR)

KAYAK CROSS MEN – JUNIOR

  1. PISTONI Michele (ITA)
  2. CORNU Martin    (FRA)
  3. LONG Kyler James (USA)

KAYAK CROSS WOMEN – U23

  1. BEKOVA Katerina (CZE)
  2. HUG Angele (FRA)
  3. MARX Alena (SUI)

KAYAK CROSS WOMEN – JUNIOR

  1. KNEBLOVA Klara  (CZE)
  2. PESCE-ROUE Nina (FRA)
  3. DAVIDSON Codie (AUS)

Pics by Damiano Benedetto

Great Britain Sam Leaver kayak cross Krakow 2023

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