Russia’s Larisa Volik successfully defended her VL3 paracanoe world title in a thrilling finish on the opening day of the 2018 ICF Paracanoe and Canoe Sprint World Championships in Montemor-o-Velho, Portugal.

Volik, who won her first world title in Racice last year and is also the reigning European champion, finished powerfully to overtake Ukraine’s Nataliia Lahutenko and Great Britain’s Charlotte Henshaw in the shadows of the finish line.

Volik’s time in the non-Paralympic event was 1:06.262, with Lahutenko 0.135 seconds back and Henshaw, who led for most of the race, fading to finish third in 1:06.407.

It was compensation for Volik after she struggled in the Paralympic kayak class heats earlier in the day.

“I thought I got a very good start and that I was doing well, but the other girls were very strong and then I realised I was not doing so good,” Volik said.

“I was very disappointed with my kayak race earlier today, but I think I will do better next time.

“I spend more time on my kayak because it’s Paralympic class.”

In Wednesday’s only other final, Germany’s Peter Happ defeated Chile’s Robinson Mendez in the men’s VL1.

Happ and Mendez are both newcomers to paracanoe, but the German said he is enjoying every minute.

“This is my first year with the national team, so to take first place in the VL1, I’m super happy, and just glad to be here” Happ said.

“I was not nervous before the race, but when I was at the start, yes I could feel my stomach.

“I like it, this is the best sport I can do with my national team, it’s the travelling around, competing with the other guys, it’s a lot of fun.”

The 2018 ICF Paracanoe and Canoe Sprint World Championships continues tomorrow in Portugal, with three more paracanoe finals.

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