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The European Games Krakow-Malopolska 2023 canoe slalom competitions in Kolna Sports Centre kicked off with men’s and women’s kayak heats. Local favourite Klaudia ZWOLINSKA and Swiss kayaker Martin DOUGOUD produced the best heats runs in their respective events.

Martin DOUGOUD (SUI) and Klaudia ZWOLINSKA (POL) are the winners of the kayak heats of the first canoe slalom competition day at the European Games. Both athletes started in their respective heats with a bib number seven which proved to be lucky this Thursday on the rapids of river Vistula.

The 24-year-old Klaudia ZWOLINSKA who represented athletes at the Opening Ceremony of the European Games showed her power on a home course and the rapids she knows very well. She produced a penalty free run to secure herself the place in Saturday’s semifinal. She was 0.33 seconds faster than Austrian Corinna KUHNLE in second position and 0.40 seconds faster than Camille PRIGENT (FRA) who was third in women’s kayak heats.

“I am really happy to start at the European Games here in Krakow. This course is really special for me and is like my home place. I am happy I had a good and clean run. The course was tricky, so I am happy I made a solid run,” said ZWOLINSKA after her winning run.

Like ZWOLINSKA, Swiss kayaker Martin DOUGOUD, too, started with a bib number seven and produced the best heats run of the day. In a tough competition, an athlete from Geneve stopped the clock at 83.98, which was a second faster than any other kayaker on the start of the first heats run.

“I am quite happy with my run. I did not take too much risk, I just paddled on the water and I got some good feelings, so it is nice.  The course is difficult. At the end it is quite shallow, so you have to push it until the end, this can make a big difference in a time and it can be challenging,” said DOUGOUD.

Young French kayaker Titouan Castryk finished the heats in second place, while the reigning Olympic and European Champion Jiri Prskavec (CZE) concluded the first stage of the race in third position.

Top 40 paddlers from men’s kayak heats and the fastest 30 athletes from women’s kayak heats progressed to the Saturday’s semifinal, where they will fight for the top ten places which lead to the final, which is also on the programme on Saturday.

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.