Three world champions and three of the most exciting young talents in men’s canoe sprint look set to go head-to-head on Tuesday in what is shaping as the most eagerly anticipated race of the Olympic canoe sprint programme in Tokyo.

The men’s K1 1000, one of only four events which has been on every canoe sprint Olympic programme since the sport joined the Games in 1936, will live up to its standing as a marquee event by bringing together one of its best and most even fields in modern Olympic history.

The three International Canoe Federation world champions – Balint Kopasz of Hungary (2019), Fernando Pimenta of Portugal (2018), and Josef Dostal of the Czech Republic (2014) – all convincingly won their heats at the Sea Forest Waterway on Monday.

They then watched on as two of the most exciting young paddlers went head-to-head in the final heat, with 22-year-old German Jacob Schopf just edging 21-year-old Adam Varga for first place.

Schopf is predicting the younger athletes will have an advantage on Tuesday.

“The last time I raced against Adam was in 2017 at the junior world championships,” Schopf said.

“I won and he was second. I know he is a strong guy, and I always know that he can beat everyone. But there are other guys in my age, like the Australian guys, and I think we have a big field with high quality fields.

“We don’t know everything about the young paddlers, like Adam and me and the Australians. Everyone knows the tactics of the older guys, but not the younger guys, and I think that will set up some interesting fights.”

Add to the mix 22-year-old Australian Tom Green, who looked untroubled finishing second behind Dostal in the opening heat, and the makings are there for one of the most open races on the canoe sprint programme.

Portugal’s Pimenta knows it will be a tough race to win.

“I think it will be a great show tomorrow,” Pimenta said.

“There are younger athletes, there are older athletes, I hope to be part of the most beautiful show for the sports lover.”

Kopasz, the reigning world champion, said he is feeling in good shape, but also knows he will need to be at his best to challenge for the gold.

“I feel I am in very good form, and for me that is the most important,” he said.

“It wasn’t a hard race to make the semi-final, but on Tuesday it will be very strong. Fernando Pimenta, Josef Dostal, Jacob Schopf, Adam Varga – there are a lot. The biggest race of my life.”

The men’s K1 1000 semi-finals and final will be contested on Tuesday.

Czech Josef Dostal K1 1000 Tokyo Olympics

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