Weber and Dietze back to their best in Belgrade

Germany’s Franziska Weber and Tina Dietze have moved quickly to put their disappointing canoe sprint result in Szeged behind them by blasting their way into the women’s K2 500 final at the third ICF World Cup in Belgrade.

Weber and Dietze, gold medallists at the London Olympics and silver medallists in Rio last year, had a rare event last weekend where they finished off the podium, finishing fourth behind New Zealand’s Lisa Carrington and Caitlin Ryan.

The result stung the Germans into action, on Friday blitzing a strong field to take the one direct spot into Sunday’s final.

And while they know everyone always expects them to win, they try to ignore the pressures.

“It was good after a not so good race in Szeged last weekend, we wanted to show we could do it better,” Weber said.

“I think this is something we don’t want to know. We don’t look what others say to us, we only have the things we have in our mind.

“We know we have trained after a long break after Rio, so the pressure for us is not so big, it doesn’t matter for us what others think.”

The men’s K1 1000 is set to be another hard-fought final, with the top three placegetters from Rio taking the field.

Of the trio it’s gold medallist Marcus Walz who is the outsider, after the Spaniard only just made the final for the second week in a row.

 “Everyone’s expecting me to win, and if I come second then they think that is very bad,” Walz said.

“But I don’t want to think about that, I just want to have fun and enjoy and gain a bit more experience on the water.

“Even before last year’s Olympics I had decided that this year I will take it a bit easier, because last year was such a strong year. I just needed a mental rest this year.”

Silver medallist Josef Dostal has vowed to bounce back after the Czech had a disappointing final in Szeged, while Russia’s Rio bronze medallist, Roman Anoshkin, looked strong in his preliminary races.

The C1 final will provide the latest chapter in the ongoing rivalry between Germany’s multiple Olympic champion, Sebastian Brendel, and Rio finalist, Martin Fuksa of the Czech Republic.

Brendel is yet to stand atop the podium after two World Cups this year, while Fuksa has enjoyed success at both.

Belarus made an impact on its return to top level racing and has athletes in six finals on Saturday. Volha Khudzenka will be hard to beat in the women’s K1 500, while Aleh Yurenia is the athlete the rest of the field will be watching in the men’s K1 1000.

Hungary’s Virag Balla will be out to continue her dominance of the women’s canoe events, while Spain’s Francisco Cubelos and Ingo Pena get the chance to defend the K2 500 title they won in Szeged last weekend.

Poland’s Vincent Slominski and Mateusz Kaminski are another combination looking to make it two wins in a row, after qualifying for the final of the C2 1000.

Austria’s Markus Swoboda won gold on Friday in the men’s KL2 paracanoe final, while Serbia’s Arsen Arsenovic provided excitement for his home crowd when he won the KL3 200 gold medal.

The ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup 3 continues in Belgrade on Saturday.

Pic by Balint Vekassy

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