Adam Varga and Tom Green are two of the most exciting young canoe sprint paddlers in the world, and this weekend they will go head-to-head for gold at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Szeged, Hungary.

Hungarian Varga and Australian Green both eased their way into Saturday’s K1 1000 final with comfortable semi-final wins in Szeged on Thursday, and both immediately identified each other as the major threat this weekend.

Both are determined to finish the 2022 season with a big race. Varga, the Olympic K1 1000 silver medalist, has not had many opportunities to race 1000 because the one available Hungarian position has been going to Olympic and world champion, Balint Kopasz.

“I think that was a good 1000 because in the European championships and other events I could only do the 500 metre races, and I feel that maybe I forgot how to do the 1000,” Varga said after winning his semi-final.

“This is a very strong field. There are plenty of athletes who can have a good final. I’m very happy to do my last U23 races at home in front of people I know, and they can watch me live.

“Maybe there is a little pressure, but this is my third big race this month, so I want to have fun and do my best. I have never done three events in one race so maybe this will be good training for me.”

Green finished seventh in the K1 1000 behind Kopasz and Varga at the Tokyo Olympics, but them teamed with Jean van der Westhuyzen to win the K2 500 gold. This year he has struggled with illness, including a bout of Covid on the eve of the world championships.

He said he is ready to show his best this weekend.

“It was a good semi-final, I was definitely a lot more consistent so I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do in the final off the back of that,” he said.

“It’s going to be a good benchmarking into the seniors, it’s not an easy U23. I wish I could have seen what I could do at worlds, but obviously the health issues limited me with what I could do.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do here and if what we have been working on and if we are going in the right direction.”

Other strong performers on day two of the championships included a comfortable heats win for two-time ICf world champion Emese Kohalmi in the U23 K1 1000, and quick times from Poland’s Martyna Klatt and Sandra Ostrowska in the women’s U23 K2 500, and Portugal’s Gustavo Goncalves and Pedro Casinha in the men’s U23 K2 500.

The first medals of the 2022 ICF Junior and U23 Canoe Sprint World Championships will be decided Friday morning, with 16 gold medals up for grabs. In Olympic distance events there will be titles decided in men’s and women’s C2 500, K4 men’s and women’s 500 metres, and C1 men’s 1000 metres.

Pics by Bence Vekassy

Hungary Adam Varga U23 Szeged 2022

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