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On the first canoe slalom competition day at the European Games Krakow-Malopolska 2023 the first two sets of medals have been awarded to the best teams in men’s and women’s kayak events. The first gold medals went to Spain thanks to their men’s kayak team and to France which celebrated in women’s kayak team event. Canoe Slalom is part of the European Games sports programme for the first time.

Spanish kayakers Miquel TRAVE, David LLORENTE and Pau ECHANIZ were the winners of gold medals in the first medal event of canoe slalom competitions at the European Games Krakow-Malopolska 2023. The Spanish trio surprisingly took the gold medal ahead of Polish team with Dariusz POPIELA, Mateusz POLACZYK and Michal PASIUT. Poles were a little less than a second and a half behind. French team (Titouan CASTRYCK, Boris NEVEU, Benjamin RENIA) won bronze medal.

“I was really good to win with these two guys. It is a really incredible feeling. We knew it will be hard, but we had a really good run with a touch and we had to wait, but finally we got the gold, so we are really happy,” said Miquel TRAVE.

“It was a really good run, we were really solid. I had a touch, so I was afraid if it will be enough of not. The course was very tight, the gates were very low, but it was enough to win,” said David LLORENTE.

“It feels good. It is a privilege to win and ever bigger privilege to win with these guys. We are great friends on and out of the water. It is enjoyable,” said Pau ECHANIZ.

Poland won silver medal and the most experienced paddler in the team was Dariusz POPIELA, who already has medals in team events from the European Championships on this course in the years 2008 and 2013.

“I have my family here, my children. I never expected that my children will see me here to win a medal at European Games at home in Poland. Last year we also won a silver medal and this means the Polish kayak is really strong,” said Dariusz POPIELA.

After the men’s kayak teams, women took the stage and fought for the European Games medals. France won a gold medal in women’s team event for the second time in a row as they were crowned team European Champions last year. There was a slight change in the French team compared to the season 2022, when Camille PRIGENT, Emma VUITTON and Romane PRIGENT took the European Champion titles, and now Marjorie DELASSUS stood on the top podium position together with Emma VUITTON and Camille PRIGENT.

When the French team crossed the finish line, there was a 50 seconds penalty added to their time, and it took a while the judges analysed the video of their run to conclude whether there was a mistake for a 50 seconds penalty or not. At the end the penalty was removed and France could celebrate a win in women’s kayak team event.

Tereza FISEROVA, Amalie HILGERTOVA and Antonie GALUSKOVA (CZE) were the winners of silver medal, while Germans Ricarda FUNK, Elena LILIK and Emily APEL took bronze medal on the opening day of canoe slalom competitions in Kolna Sports Centre.  

“It was stressful, because we got 50 seconds penalty we were sure we did not have, and we had to wait before we could celebrate this amazing result,” said Camille PRIGENT.

“The run was very good, it was the fire on the water. We had a good feeling,” said Emma VUITTON.

The third member of the team was Marjorie DELASUSS, who said: “At the beginning we touched the gate number one, so we had to stay focused through the race. I was paddling in the third place and could see the whole race. It was really nice!”

On Friday, the canoe slalom competitions continue with men’s and women’s canoe heats and team events in men’s and women’s canoe.

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.