Portuguese paddlers urge home fans to get behind them in Montemor

In less than one month the best canoe sprint and paracanoe paddlers in the world will assemble in Montemor, Portugal, for the 2018 ICF World Championships, and the excitement is building.

Much of the hype surrounds local hope Fernando Pimenta, the face of the Championships and a strong chance of double gold in August.

So popular is the 28-year-old that the man-size omnipresent official event mascot, Pimentena, is based entirely on the London 2012 Olympic silver medallist.

This week Pimenta joined a group from the Portuguese Canoe Federation at a presentation before Portugal’s Olympic Committee. More than 1500 athletes from 80 countries will line up between August 22 and 26 at Montemor-o-Velho.

“The first big step is to reach the final and then try to be in the fight for the podiums,” Pimenta told the local dignitaries and the media.

Also joining the group were Teresa Portela and Joana Vasconcelos, K2 200 gold medallists at last month’s European Championships.

“It's a new challenge,” Portela said.

Vasconcelos said all the Portuguese athletes are hoping a big home crowd will turn out to cheer the local team on. Portuguese Canoeing Federation vice-president, Ricardo Machado, said the host nation will be well represented.

“We will be present with one of the biggest competitions ever, with 40 athletes, 12 of whom will be part of the Tokyo 2020 olympic project,” he said.

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