Olympic medallists Emma Jorgensen and Isaquias Santos head a list of more than 900 athletes from 62 countries in Romania this week to contest the 2017 ICF Canoe Sprint U23 and Junior World Championships.

Jorgensen, a K1 500 silver medallist for Denmark in Rio, and Santos, a 3-time Olympic medallist last year, will be the star attractions in a competition that will showcase the future of canoe sprint.

Also certain to make an impact in Pitesti will be 2017 World Cup gold medallists Dora Lucz, Virag Balla and Balint Kopasz of Hungary, and New Zealand’s Aimee Fisher.

Several defending U23 and Junior World Champions will be back to defend their titles, including 2015 K2 1000 gold medallists Riley Fitzsimmons and Jordan Wood of Australia.

“We didn’t race last year so technically we are not the defending champions,” Wood said.

“But the last time we did race in this event, in Montemor, we won the gold so we’re hoping to do it again.

“We’ve been going really well in training and hitting good markers, so we just want to showcase what we can do.”

The Junior and U23 World Championships also provides an opportunity for countries where canoe sprint is not as well known to test themselves among the world’s best.

Anahjir Vergara is one of seven athletes from Chile and will be competing in the junior C2, his second under age World Championships after competing in Minsk last year.

He finished seventh in the B final last year.

“Yes I’m very excited,” Vergara said.

“Tomorrow is the first race, it is amazing for all the athletes from around the world. It is a great experience.

“Our sport in Chile is not so important. But my dream is to play at the Olympics. Maybe Tokyo 2020, maybe 2024.”

The ICF 2017 Canoe Sprint U23 and Junior World Championships begins on Thursday.

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