New Zealand’s Aimee Fisher inflicted a rare defeat on her teammate Lisa Carrington while Canada’s Katie Vincent, Hungary’s Balint Kopasz and Brazil’s Isaquias Queiroz firmed as Paris Olympic favourites on the final day of the ICF Sprint World Cup in Szeged.

Fisher, who walked from the New Zealand team in the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics because of an internal dispute, announced her return to the big stage with an incredible finishing burst to relegate Olympic and world champion Carrington to a silver medal.

Both paddlers went under the previous world best time.

“When I was lining up, I just wanted to be courageous, and I wanted to paddle beautifully, and light up my own lane.

“And I think I did that. I didn’t panic, I stayed calm. I could hear everyone cheering us on, I could hear my name being called, I felt like I could hear everyone back home, and it was like there was this love pulling me to the finish line.

“There were definitely some tears afterwards. It was a really special moment. It’s been tough, I feel like I have walked through fire at times, but it’s transformed me as a person and as an athlete. It’s been a good ride.”

Belgium’s Hermien Peters took the bronze.

Balint Kopasz is still to be confirmed as one of Hungary’s paddlers for the men’s K1 1000 in Paris, but on Sunday the reigning Olympic champion put on a display for the selectors and the large Hungarian crowd.

Brazil Isaquias Szeged 2024

Kopasz took over the lead before the half-way mark and never looked back. In a repeat of the Olympic podium, Hungarian teammate Adam Varga was second and Portugal’s Fernando Pimenta third.

“I’m happy because there were several big champions out there, and I could compete with them,” Kopasz said.

“I’m in very good form, that’s what’s important for me, and I’ve trained a lot in the past few weeks. I feel I am strong mentally and physically, which is important for 1000 metres.

“But I would like to have better form in my next race. On June 6 it’s a very important race for me, it will be the Olympic selection, and if I can win that race then I will go to the Olympics Games.”

Brazil’s Isaquias Queiroz made a big statement on Saturday by winning the non-Olympic C1 500, and then followed up with a powerful win in Sunday’s C1 1000. The defending Olympic champion said he was back to full fitness after a challenging 2023.

“Last year I saved my energy and relaxed but now I’m ready,” Queiroz said.

“I’m really happy where I’m at, I just need to keep focussed on the Olympic Games.”

Canada Katie Vincent Szeged 2024

Frenchman Adrien Bart won the silver and neutral athlete Zakhar Petrov the bronze.

The race for women’s C1 200 gold has intensified following a fast-finishing win for Canada’s Katie Vincent.

Vincent won a C2 500 bronze at the sport’s debut in Tokyo, but is ready to take on the C1 challenge in Paris.

“That was definitely one of the best races that I’ve put together, something we’ve been working on for probably a couple of years now,” Vincent said.

“Going into the C1 we had little expectations, just to go in there and see what we can do, so to come out with these performances is really positive.

“One of the biggest things I learned going into Tokyo was resilience and staying with things, and facing things head on. Since Tokyo our team has faced adversities, and personally I’ve had ups and downs, so I’m just taking those with a grain of salt.”

Canadian teammate Sophia Jensen took the silver, with Cuba’s defending world champion Yarisleidis Cirilo Duboys the bronze.

The second ICF Sprint World Cup will be held in Poznan, Poland, in a fortnight.

Pics by Bence Vekassy

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