Savsek and Hilgertova triumph at European titles

The first individual finals of the 2019 ECA Canoe Slalom European Championships in Pau, France, saw Slovenian Benjamin Savšek take the men's C1 final, while young Czech kayaker Amalie Hilgertova won the European Champion title in women's kayak.

21-year-old Hilgertova took the surprising win in women's K1. She was 0.19 seconds faster than Great Britain's Mallory Franklin, with German paddler Jasmin Schornberg winning the bronze medal.

"I still cannot believe it. The run was perfect. When I saw the time I could not believe I was so fast. At the end is this result, which is just crazy," she said.

Hilgertova comes from a well-known Czech canoeing family, but she says winning medals does not just run in the blood or come easily.

"I don't think that's in the blood. I had to fight with my head for quite a long time," she said.

"In 2013 when I won the junior world championships in Liptovsky Mikulaš, I wasn't really ready for that mentally, so after that I struggled for a long time and I finally found the way back, so I hope the next medal won't take so long."

The defending champion Ricarda Funk from Germany actually had the fastest run of the final, but made a mistake that cost her additional 50 seconds, so the chances of defending her title were gone.

There were far less surprises in the men's canoe final, with Benjamin Savšek winning the second gold medal for Slovenia at this championships. He produced the best run of all to continue his winning streak at the course in Pau.

At the last major canoeing competition held at this course - the 2017 ICF canoe slalom world championships - he also showed the best run to win the world title. This is his second individual gold medal at European Championships. Savšek was the fastest already in 2015 at European Championships in Markkleeberg.

"It was a really nice, fast and clean run. The bottom part was really hard, I was just looking forward to the finish and pushing as hard as I could," Savsek said.

"I am really happy to be European champion. I like this course, I like to race here and I will have good memories from this venue."

Savšek added an individual gold medal to his team gold medal he won on Friday with his teammates Luka Božič and Anže Berčič.

Martin Thomas from France came very close to Savšek, but was 0.79 seconds behind so he took the silver medal for the host nation. Sideris Tasiadis from Germany was third.

On Sunday the European Championships will close with semi-final and final races in women's canoe and men's kayak events.

Slovenia Benjamin Savsek European champion 2019

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