Mixed results for big names on opening morning of sprint World Cup

Pic by Balint Vekassy

There were mixed results for the big names of international sprint canoe on the opening morning of the ICF World Cup 1 in Montemor-o-Velho, Portugal, but they are all safely through to this weekend’s finals.

Hungary’s Krisztina Fazekas-Zur, a two-time Olympic team gold medallist and multiple World Championships winner, had to work the hardest, relying on a second placing in a semi-final of the K1 500 to make the final.

“It’s very good that I’ve made the final,” 36-year-old Fazekas-Zur said.

“I have felt better, but it is only early in the season so I hope with every race I will get better.”

German three-time Olympic gold medallist, Sebastian Brendel, had to settle for a close second in his heat of the C1 1000, having his colours lowered by Czech C1 500 World Champion, Martin Fuksa.

Both athletes qualified straight into the final.

French Olympic silver medallist, Maxime Beaumont, could not have looked stronger in winning his heat of the K1 1000.

In other results, 2016 British Olympian Rebeka Simon was an impressive winner in her heat of the K1 500, and said she enjoyed the conditions.

“It’s good to get the first one out of the way, the first International of the season, so it’s a good start,” Simon said.

“After being out yesterday it’s not really that bad. But at home we train on Nottingham Lake, and it’s ten times worst, so we’re used to it.”

She said making the Olympics was a dream, and she’s looking forward to taking on the world’s best over the next four years.

“There’s been a lot of changes within British Canoeing, moving to a new city and new staff, but it’s been pretty exciting,” she said.

“When I was really young I used to think if I ever stood next to them I would be in awe, but when you are out there racing you just be professional.”

The men’s K4 1000 will be replaced by the K4 500 in Tokyo, making a new focus for many athletes.

Spain’s Pelayo Roza and Albert Marti are two that hope to be in the K4 in 2020, showing their pedigree with a strong heat win in the K2 500 on Friday.

“The conditions are very fast, the wind is blowing very strong,” Roza said.

“Of course it has been very hard preparing for the first race of the year. We have trained hard, two times every day, for events like this.

“Maybe we have a good chance for the K4 500 in Tokyo, because we are very young and we think we have a lot of potential.”

Another with his sights on Tokyo is Cuban triple-Olympian Serguey Madrigal, who teamed up with teenager Fernando Enriquez to finish sixth in the C2 1000 in Rio last year.

The pair won their C2 1000 heat comfortably on Friday morning. 

“It was very hard for us, because me and my partner do not have much weight,” Madrigal said.

“I think we will improve a lot over the next year, because my partner is only 18-years-old. We finished sixth in Rio, but he is so young so I think we can get much better.

“We have good facilities and good support in Havana, because we have a good history. Cuba won a medal in Sydney and in Athens and always make the finals, so it is good for our future.” 

The ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup 1 continues on Friday afternoon and on Saturday and Sunday.

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