Australia’s Curtis McGrath and Great Britain’s Emma Wiggs both successfully defended their world championship crowns and the Hungarian favourites for the women’s K2 500 were sensationally disqualified in a day of drama at the ICF canoe sprint and paracanoe championships in Szeged.

The first quotas for next year’s Tokyo Paralympics have been earned, with the top six in Thursday’s three gold medal events all earning places for their countries.

Curtis McGrath held on by a fingernail to successfully defend his VL3 world title, edging out Brazil’s Caio Carvalho by just 0.10 of a second to repeat the gold and silver result from last year.

Great Britain’s Stuart Wood took bronze.

“That’s the closest I’ve ever had, so it’s nice to be pushed all the way,” McGrath said.

“Caio’s always been there. Some days he gets a really good start, and some days he just doesn’t have the right go, but today was one of those days and he pushed me all the way.”

Australia <a href='/webservice/athleteprofile/56679' data-id='56679' target='_blank' class='athlete-link'>Curtis McGrath</a> VL3 Szeged 2019

Tears flowed freely for Great Britain’s Emma Wiggs after she defended her VL2 world title. Wiggs has been battling a wrist injury, and revealed she had contemplated retiring because she began to doubt herself.

“It’s just been quite a tough year, I’m really pleased for Matt (her coach) because I’ve been a really difficult athlete this year, and he’s stuck by me, and so’s my wife and my family, because I’ve been hard to live with this year,” Wiggs said.

“I always said if I couldn’t get faster I’d retire, and I just haven’t felt competitive. I’ve just been on the verge of thinking I’m too old for this, but Matt still believes, and my family still believes, so I just want to make them proud.”

Australia’s Susan Seipel took the silver and Russia’s Mariia Nikiforova took the bronze.

There was elation for Brazil’s Luis da Silva when he broke through to win gold in the men’s VL2. After winning silver 12 months ago, da Silva stepped up to take gold ahead of Portugal’s Norberto Mourao, who won his country’s first ever paracanoe world championship medal, and Poland’s Jakub Tokarz.

“I wanted to win, and I wanted to make sure we can go to Tokyo next year,” the Brazilian said.

“Now I will have to train really hard for next year.”

Brazil Luis Cardosa Da Silva paracanoe Szeged 2019

Hungary’s Danuta Kozak, the most successful female canoe sprint athlete of the modern era, and partner Anna Karasz easily won their K2 500 semi-final, but then looked on in disbelief as their boat weighed in light and they were disqualified.

Kozak has won gold in the K2 at the past two Olympics, and with Karasz was the defending world champion. Slovenia’s Spela Ponomarenko Janic and Anja Osterman marked themselves as medal favourites with a strong semi-final win.

“We will do our own race, but it will be a bit easier because one of the best countries is out,” Ponomarenko Janic said.

“It’s disappointing because we love to race against the best, and we want to beat the best ones

In other results, the women’s C2 500 took on a different look following the withdrawl of world champions Canada after Laurence Vincent-Lapointe’s suspension for a positive drug test.

Hungary’s Virag Balla and Kincso Takacs, who defeated the Canadians at the Duisburg world cup earlier this year, easily won their heat.

“They were the biggest name here, and we really wanted to race against them,” Balla said.

“This is the world champs, everyone is preparing for this, and I wanted to see how our training was going. I just want to race against them again.”

The 2019 ICF canoe sprint and paracanoe world championships continue on Friday.

Hungary <a href='/webservice/athleteprofile/47437' data-id='47437' target='_blank' class='athlete-link'>Anna Karasz</a> <a href='/webservice/athleteprofile/41540' data-id='41540' target='_blank' class='athlete-link'>Danuta Kozak</a> Szeged 2019

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