Reigning world champions Nevin Harrison and Balint Kopasz will be the star turns at the ICF canoe sprint and paracanoe world cup this weekend in Szeged, Hungary.

International travel restrictions have forced several leading athletes out of the three-day event, however many world championship medalists have made the trip to Hungary and will compete in what will be the biggest international canoe sprint competition in 2020.

Event organisers will have strict Covid-19 precautions in place, but spectators will be allowed access to the course.

Harrison, the American teenager who caused a major upset when she stormed to the women’s C1 200 world title in Szeged last year, is one of the few athletes from outside Europe who has entered this weekend.

The 18-year-old will need to be at her best to take the gold, with last year’s runner-up, Olesia Romasenko from Russia, and fourth-placed Maria Mailliard of Chile also in the quality field.

Balint Kopasz was the toast of Hungary when he held off the world’s best 1000 metre sprinters to take the championship title in Szeged last year. The crowds won’t be present to cheer him on this weekend, but several of last year’s finalists will be on hand to challenge the Hungarian.

Former world champion and 2019 bronze medalist Fernando Pimenta of Portugal will bring class to the field, while Frenchman Etienne Hubert and Spain’s Roi Rodriguez, eight and ninth in last year’s final, will be keen to perform well with less than 12 months to the Tokyo Olympics.

Rio Olympic silver medalist Maxime Beaumont is one of four athletes from last year’s men’s 200 metre final to be taking to the water this weekend. The Frenchman was fourth in the 2019 final, while Italy’s Manfredi Rizza (5th), Sweden’s Petter Menning (6th) and Lithuania’s Arturas Seja (8th) are all entered.

The men’s K2 1000 looks set be another of the quality events this weekend. Spanish world championship silver medalists, Francisco Cubelos and Inigo Pena, will take on the French bronze medalists, Cyrille Carre and Etienne Hubert, while Italy’s Samuele Burgo and Luca Beccaro, sixth in last year’s final, have also entered.

The ICF canoe sprint and paracanoe world cup begins on Friday and runs through until Sunday.


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