Picture by Balint Vekassy

Brazil’s Isaquias Queiroz dos Santos said he was feeling ‘relaxed’ after his first day of World Championships competition since his history-making Olympic achievements in Rio last year.

Queiroz dos Santos, who finished second at the ICF World Cup event in Szeged this year, looked comfortable in his heats and semi-finals of the C1 2000 at the U23 and Junior Canoe Sprint World Championships in Pitesti, Romania, on Thursday.

He qualified fastest for Saturday’s final.

“This is my last year paddling in the U23’s and my first event in this competition,” Queiroz dos Santos said.

“I’m very happy my coach gave his consent for me to race here, because it is a very different competition.

“I don’t feel any extra pressure because of my Olympic results. My first objective is the World Championships in Racice, but I’m feeling pretty relaxed.”

Queiroz dos Santos won silver medals in the C1 1000 and C2 1000, and a bronze medal in the C1 200 in front of thousands of fans and a Brazilian television audience in the millions.

Not surprisingly, the 23-year-old is now a household name throughout Brazil.

“My life had a big change after the Rio Olympics because I had become a more popular athlete, the first one in my sport (to win three medals in one Olympics)” he said.

“But now the focus for me is the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”

There were no major surprises on day one of competition in Pitesti, raced in almost perfect conditions.

Belgium’s Artuur Peters was fastest qualifier for the men’s U23 K1 1000, while Australia’s Alyssa Bull was fastest qualifier in the women’s K1 1000.

The rivalry between Hungary’s Virag Balla and Alena Nazdrova of Belarus in the C1 500 will create another chapter on Saturday after both comfortably qualified for the U23 final.

Nazdrova defeated Balla at the ICF World Cup event in Belgrade, but the Hungarian turned the tables when the pair met at the European Championships earlier this month.

The 2017 ICF U23 and Junior Canoe Slalom World Championships continues on Friday.

Canoe Sprint
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