There were surprise fastest qualifiers on the opening day of the International Canoe Federation’s Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Cup in Szeged, Hungary, on Thursday.

New Zealand’s Aimee Fisher, racing in a wind-assisted lane one, celebrated her return to international racing with a lightning-fast K1 500 heat win, posting a time almost five seconds quicker than the heat of teammate and Olympic champion, Lisa Carrington.

In the men’s K1 1000 it was a German who posted the fastest heat, with Jakob Thordsen announcing himself on the world stage with a tough win, tipping out an impressive list of Olympic and world champions.

Racing was tough for the opening day of the season, with strong crosswinds and cool temperatures providing an extra challenge for athletes who have come off long training campaigns. Lane one competitors had a distinct advantage over the rest of the field.

Other impressive heat winners on opening day included Cuba’s Jose Cordova in the men’s C1 1000, the German men’s K4 and New Zealand women’s K4 500 crews, and Canada’s Katie Vincent in the women’s C1 200.

In the women’s C2 500, Spain’s Antia Jacome and Maria Corbera posted the quickest heat.

In paracanoe races, Australia’s three-time Paralympic champion Curtis McGrath celebrated his first international race since the Tokyo Games with a fastest heat win in the men’s KL3. But he could not post the quickest time in the men’s VL3, with Great Britain’s Stuart Wood recording the fastest mark.

British teammate Charlotte Henshaw was fastest in the new Paralympic VL3 event, Australia’s Dylan Littlehales set the best mark in the men’s KL3, and France’s Nelia Barbosa was quickest in the women’s KL3.

The ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Cup continues in Szeged on Friday, with the first gold medals of the competition up for grabs.

Pics by Bence Vekassy

Scenic Szeged bridge

Canoe Sprint
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