Jensen takes first steps to defending her golden sprint treble

Exciting Canadian teenager Sophia Jensen has once again underlined her incredible talent with two strong performances on the opening day of competition at the 2019 ICF junior and U23 canoe sprint world championships in Pitesti, Romania.

Also impressive on Thursday were Germany’s defending U23 C1 1000 gold medalist, Conrad Schreibner, Cuba’s canoe prodigy Jose Cordova, and Australia’s Tom Green in the K1 1000 and teammates Jean Van Der Westhuyzen and Jackson Collins in the K2 1000.

17-year-old Jensen picked up three gold medals at her junior world championships debut in Bulgaria in 2018, and was impressive again on Thursday when she qualified straight through to the finals of both the junior C1 200 and C1 500.

“I was really stressed on the start line, I don’t think I have ever been so stressed in all my life,” Jensen said.

“It’s weirder being the defending champion I guess, I’ve never really had that experience, so that was really stressful.”

18-year-old Cordova caused a major boilover when he won C1 1000 gold at the opening ICF world cup this year, and had little trouble in his junior heat on Thursday, posting a time more than four seconds quicker than the next best.

Australia’s Tom Green already has a K1 1000 senior world cup final to his name this year, and in Pitesti he was easily the fastest qualifier for the semis in the U23 event. His time was quicker than the gold medal-winning time at last year’s U23 world titles.

“It felt alright, the water’s a bit heavy but it felt good,” Green said.

“I’m just going to go as well as I can here, and take that expectation off everything. With senior worlds coming up, I’ve got a lot of expectations on myself for that, so I’m pretty much just here to have some fun.”

Green’s K4 1000 teammates Van Der Westhuyzen and Collins were also quick in the heats of the men’s U23 K2 1000, going under last year’s gold medal time to book a direct place in the final.

“It’s really exciting to be able to come here and race for your country,” Collins said.

“Everyone’s paddling really well, and we have a good team environment. Everyone’s feeling really good.”

Hungary’s Anna Lucz was the fastest on the water in the women’s K1 200, qualifying straight through to the final.

“I’m quite happy, but I was really nervous before the race. The first race is always so nervous for me,” Lucz said.

“I’m glad that I’m over it. I think I’m in good shape, and I’m also going to the senior world championships, which I’m really excited about.”

Also impressive on Thursday was Russia’s reigning C1 500 world champion, Kseniia Kurach, who appreciated the drop back in distance to qualify easily for the final in the U23 C1 200.

“The race wasn’t hard, but it wasn’t easy,” Kurach said.

“It’s my first race for the year in 200 metres in international competition. I feel a little pressure. I’m world champion in the 500, but I need to win the 200 metres.”

Germany’s Scheibner won the U23 C1 1000 gold in Bulgaria last year, and showed he’s on track to defend that title with a solid heat win on Thursday.

“This is my last year in U23, so it’s quite special and hopefully it will work out,” Scheibner said.

“I really want to show that I’m still in good form. Last year the pressure wasn’t that high because I didn’t have to prove anything, but this year I am the reigning champion so there’s quite a lot of pressure. But I think I’m more stable and stronger this year.”

The 2019 ICF junior and U23 canoe sprint world championships continue in Pitesti on Friday.

Germany Conrad-Robin Scheibner Poznan 2019

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