Racing continued in Minsk as the hierarchy of the world’s young elite paddlers prepared for its annual reshuffle ahead of this weekend’s finals at the 2016 ICF Junior and U23 Canoe Sprint World Championship in Belarus.

With over 90 races crammed into a packed schedule the action was thick and fast, with heats and semifinals throughout the day as the competition edged ever-closer to crunch time.

The German K4M Junior crew of Jonas Valentin Drager, Jan Bechtold, Jacob Schopf and Jakob Thordsen put in the star performance of the day stopping-the-clock at just over three minutes.

In their heat they led strong quartets from Russia and Hungary as they pulled through in first place to the weekend’s final.

“The Hungarians had a very good start, but at 500m our race started,” said a satisfied Bechtold.

The young German continued, “We are very excited and hope to be able to do even better in the final.”

“In June we had an international regatta and after that our boat combination was fixed. We are training together for these championships since July.”

Another crew seemingly benefiting from consistent training together was Jasmin Fritz and Nina Krankemann (GER), who are competing in the K2W U23 500m.

“We are from the same club [sport club Magdeburg] and we've paddled together since 2009 when we were very young,” commented Krankemann.

The pair – who have been part of the German national team since 2013 – qualified top of today’s order, but are confident they have more to give.

“I am optimistic than we can do a bit better in the final.”

 “The race was hard, the water here feels heavier but we like the course, it's very big and fair conditions for everyone,” said Fritz.

In the singles events Hungary continue to shine with Dora Lucz (HUN, K1W U23 500m ) and Balazs Birkas (K1M U23 200m) putting in the standout performances.

“The first race is always the most difficult, I have to learn the course. I finished first but I hope I do better in the next race,” said Lucz.

Talking about the strength-in-depth of the Hungarian team, she continued, “We always have a very difficult selection Race in Hungary, the second and third places in selection race are also here in K2W.”

“It’s not my first international event but it feels always different and I am very happy to be here.”

If not a champion, Lucz is already speaking like one.

“Winning here is the only thing that I think of, it inspires me.”

Birkas was another who thought there was room for improvement.

“It’s my first race here I was excited, yet tired because I arrived here on Thursday. My performance was a bit sleepy, but it’s going to be ok for Sunday for the finals.”

"I paddled smooth, it was the heat and I didn’t have to do it hard, I will do my best for the final and hopefully finish in top three.”

Last year the young man did just that and, with another year under his belt, he is certainly a strong contender for the top step when the finals roll around.

Canoe Sprint