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The first day of the Canoe Sprint competition at the Kraków-Małopolska 2023 European Games fulfilled the expectations by bringing the promised excitement.

The competition at Kryspinow Waterway started with a bang for the local heroes. Karolina NAJA and Anna PULAWSKA managed to secure two direct finals from their heats. They opened the competition by winning the heat in the women’s K4 500 together with Adrianna KAKOL and Dominika PUTTO, and later on in the programme managed to repeat the feat in women’s K2 500 when they won their race as well.

Three direct spots in the final were up for grabs from each heat in the women’s K4 500 metre, and the rest of them were won by Germany (Paulina PASZEK, Jule HAKE, Katinka HOFMANN, Lena ROEHLINGS) and Norway (Maria VIRIK, Anna SLETSJOE, Hedda ORITSLAND, Kristine AMUNDSEN). The other heat was won by the Hungarian crew (Sara FOJT, Noemi PUPP, Alida GAZSO, Tamara CSIPES), with Denmark finishing second (Frederikke MATTHIESEN, Sara MILTHERS, Kartine JENSEN, Bolette IVERSEN), and the British boat (Deborah KERR, Emma RUSSEL, Emily LEWIS, Rebeka SIMON) coming in third.

The women’s K4 500 metre final is set for Thursday at 14:43.

The women’s K2 500 metre crews were very productive on the first day, since four out of six spots in the final that were available from the heats were won by athletes who paddled in K4s as well. Apart from the Polish duo, the Danes (JORGENSEN, MATTHIESEN), the Germans (PASZEK, HAKE) and the Hungarians (GASZO, CSIPES) also secured a spot in the Friday’s K2 500 metre final (14:16).

“The K4 was a little bit hectic since that was our first time on the course together. We made some mistakes but hopefully we will do better tomorrow. The K2 was actually perfect because we didn’t want to give our full potential in the heat and it was a comfortable race for us. It was not painful so it was good (laughs),” said CSIPES.

The remaining two spots in the final were won by Belgium (Hermien PETERS, Lize BROEKX), and France (Manon HOSTENS, Vanina PAOLETTI).

The highlight of the morning session were the men’s K2 500 metre heats, since the progression system of those heats allowed only the winners to secure a direct spot in the final. The excitement came to a boil in the second race which had to be decided with the help of photo-finish. To the naked eye it seemed that both Portuguese (Joao RIBEIRO, Messias BAPTISTA) and the German (Felix FRANK, Martin HILLER) boats went over the finish line in the same moment, but after the review the Portuguese secured the spot in the medal race.

“It was really complicated. I looked at the screen after the race and it seemed to me that the Germans had passed us. It took a long time to resolve it in the ‘photo-finish’. Then I heard background noise saying that we both passed and later that it was us. Definitely better that way (laughs). We will have one race less, and we know what we have to improve and on Thursday we will go all out,” said BAPTISTA.

In two of the races the fans at Kryspinow Waterway enjoyed closely contested races and clear wins from Serbia (Ervin HOLPERT, Marko DRAGOSAVLJEVIC) and Lithuania (Mindaugas MALDONIS, Andrej OLIJNIK).

The men’s K2 500 final is on Thursday at 14:43.

Mindaugas MALDONIS (LTU) emulated the success by the women’s crews, since he also managed to secure a spot in the final in K4 as well with his brother Simonas, Ignas NAVAKAUSKAS and Arturas SEJA in the race that was won by the Spanish boat (Saul CRAVIOTTO, Carlos AREVALO, Marcus COOPER WALZ, Rodrigo GERMADE), and the Latvian crew taking the third direct spot in the final (Aldis VILDE, Aleksejs RUMJANCEVS, Roberts AKMENS, Karlis DUMPIS).

“We’re very happy with our race. We know that the first three were going directly to the final and that was our basic goal. We actually wanted to have a strong race because of the conditions of the water. We noticed from the beginning of our training here that it is a bit hard and so we wanted to get used to it before the final. We are happy with the race, we did a very good race, adapted quickly to the water and we are ready for the final on Friday,” said COOPER WALZ.

European Games Krakow-Malopolska 2023, Canoe Sprint, Kryspinow Waterway

The direct spots in the final from Heat1 were secured by Hungarians (Istvan KULI, Kolos CSIZMADIA, Bence NADAS, Sandor TOTKA), Ukranians (Oleh KUHARYK, Dmytro DANYLENKO, Ihor TRUNOV, Ivan SEMYKIN) and Italians (Manfredi RIZZA, Alessandro GNECCHI, Giacomo CINTI, Andrea DI LIBERTO).

The men’s K4 500 metre final will take place on Friday at 14:25

The Spanish paddlers Maria CORBERA and Antia JACOME won the C2 500 heat and secured the spot in the final in front of the reigning double European and the world champion Liudmyla LUZAN (UKR) with Valeriia TERETA (UKR), while the German duo (Lisa JAHN, Heidi KLIEMKE) came in third.

“I am very satisfied with how we paddled in this race. We did everything what our coach set out for us, and managed to fulfill all the goals. We are both very satisfied and are looking forward to the final,” said LUZAN.

European Games Krakow-Malopolska 2023, Canoe Sprint, Kryspinow Waterway

The second heat was won by the European C2 200 champions Giada BRAGATO (HUN) and Bianka NAGY (HUN), in front of Daniela COCIU and Maria OLARASU from Moldova, with the Polish crew (Sylvia SZCZERBINSKA, Julia WALCZAK) completing the direct spots in the Thursday’s final (14:25).

In men’s Canadian Double six crews secured the place in the final from two heats. First heat was won by Italians Gabriele CASADEI and Carlo TACCHINI, with Spaniards (Cayetano GARCIA, Pablo MARTINEZ) coming in second in front of Lithuanians Henrikas ZUSTAUSTAS and Vadim KOROBOV.

“It was a tough race. We didn’t get the best start, it was a bit slow and it is the part on which we have to improve. But the pace in the middle of the race is our strong part and we managed to gain the pace quite a bit. We knew that and kept it as we wanted, and apparently it was enough to win the heat and now let’s see tomorrow for the final,” said TACCHINI.

European Games Krakow-Malopolska 2023, Canoe Sprint, Kryspinow Waterway

The second heat was a family affair since it was won by FUKSA (CZE) brothers, Martin and Petr. The remaining two spots in the final were secured by the Polish crew (Aleksander KITEWSKI, Norman ZEZULA) and the German boat (Peter KRETSCHMER, Tim HECKER).

Men’s C2 500 metre final will take place on Thursday at 14:16.

In the afternoon programme of the first day of the Canoe Sprint European Championships the remaining spots in the respective finals in six disciplines will be decided. The entire schedule of the first day of the competition and the results can be found here.

European Games Krakow-Malopolska 2023 is the Europe’s biggest multidisciplinary sporting event in 2023. More than 7 thousand athletes are competing in 26 sports and 29 disciplines for 253 gold medals. More than that, European Games 2023 are part of the qualification process for the Olympic Games in Paris 2024 in 19 sports. This great celebration of sports starts with opening ceremony in Krakow on 21st of June. The closing ceremony will take place on July 2nd. “