Viktoria Wolffhardt is still some way off being able to kneel comfortably in her canoe, but the knee surgery she underwent in January will become a distant memory if she is able to win a C1 medal at the ICF Canoe Slalom Junior and U23 World Championships in Bratislava today.

Wolffhardt was the quickest qualifier on Wednesday, finishing on top of a star-studded leaderboard that includes World and European Champions. The field is very much the same athletes who will line up for the World Championships later this year.

“I haven’t had so much training in C1 because of the surgery on my knee,” Wolffhardt said.

“I couldn’t get into my C1 for a long time, so I’m not secure in my C1 but it gets better with every session that I am doing.

“My surgery was in January, and I just started back training again one week before the European Championships.”

Ask any C1 paddler how to get comfortable in a boat and take the pressure of your knees and you will attract much mirth. It’s like asking a bull rider how to sit comfortably on a bucking bronco.

So if your knees are troublesome it can make for a pretty unpleasant experience.

“It hurt so much,” Wolffhardt said.

“I was sitting five centimetres higher than normal, it was so shaky on the water. It was a new challenge for me.

“I still feel it, I’m sitting differently in my boat, it’s not the same on both sides, but that’s how it is. I’m just trying to keep going.”

The women’s U23 and Junior C1 titles will both be decided in Bratislava on Friday afternoon.

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