It was all about the local paddlers winning gold medals and last year’s champions continuing their reign on the third day of Canoe Sprint competition at the Kraków-Małopolska 2023 European Games.
The local crowd had a double reason to celebrate, and their celebration started from the first race on. In the first race of the day, women’s K2 500 metres, local heroes Anna PULAWSKA and Karolina NAJA won the gold medal and defended their title in a very close race.
“I was focused at Karolina’s back so I didn’t know what’s happened around us. I wasn’t sure that we won until the finish line (laughs),” said PULAWSKA.
“I hope the fans were satisfied, and this was a very good day for us. We are happy that we confirmed our good shape and defended the title,” said NAJA.
The Danish duo Emma JORGENSEN and Frederikke MATTHIESEN won the silver, with Hungarians Alida GAZSO and Tamara CSIPES securing the third place.
The continuation of celebration for the Polish fans at Kryspinow Waterway was secured by Dorota BOROWSKA who delighted the fans with a superb race in which she managed to fight off the attacks from Liudmyla LUZAN (UKR) and Maria CORBERA (ESP).
“I’ve focused only on myself, on my race. I didn’t look at my opponents and to be honest, from the start to the finish line I did’t know if I was first, second or fifth. I’ve just tried to show everything what I can, and I did it,” said BOROWSKA.
The hero of the day was the Danish paddling star, Emma JORGENSEN who later in the day paddled a flawless race in the women’s K1 200 metres which brought her the third consecutive European champion title, her second medal of the day and the third at this year’s European championships.
“It is an amazing day today. I have just won my third K1 200 metre title which is great, but what makes it even more special is the fact that I have won it less than two hours after winning the silver with Frederikke (MATTHIESEN) in the K2 500. This is such an amazing feeling. I went out there with sore arms but my mind was ready. I just gave everything that I have and it turned out to be enough,” said JORGENSEN.
The battle for the other two places on the podium was a highly contested one, since the difference between the second and the fourth place was only seven hundredths of a second. Milica NOVAKOVIC from Serbia won the silver, while the Portuguese Francisca LAIA won bronze.
The Lithuanian Henrikas ZUSTAUTAS was successful in defending his 2022 C1 200 metres title by winning his second consecutive gold at Kryspinow Waterway. Winning the silver medal brought Georgian Zaza NADIRADZE back to the continental championships podium four years after he won the title in Belgrade. The Spanish silver medallist from last year, Pablo GRANA, won the bronze.
“Eight years ago I won in Baku, and I am very happy that I am back on top at the European Games again. I have also repeated the result from last year which makes this gold medal even sweeter”, said ZUSTAUTAS.
The men’s K1 200 metres race, as always, provided a lot of suspense and thrills. The level of competitiveness in this discipline is best described by the fact that eight, out of nine finalists, crossed the finish-line within eight tenths of a second. The new European champion is the Portuguese Messias BAPTISTA, who continued the reign of Portuguese paddlers in this discipline.
“My first time competing in K1 200 metres couldn’t go any better. The race yesterday felt really good and today I was feeling it. Two hundred metres is always very very close and all the other athletes are very strong. I had a very good start and after that I was going with the flow. Winning the gold medal is the best feeling I could have,” said BAPTISTA.
Second place in K1 200 was won by Petter MENNING (SWE), with Roberts AKMENS (LAT) edging out Serbia’s Marko DRAGOSAVLJEVIC by 0.02 of a second, to take the bronze medal.
The cherry on top was the coveted men’s K4 500 metre final. The exciting and highly contested race was resolved in the final metres of the course, with Spain (Saul CRAVIOTTO, Carlos AREVALO, Marcus WALZ, Rodrigo GERMADE) winning the gold. Silver medal position was won by the Ukrainian crew (Oleh KUKHARYK, Dmytro DANYLENKO, Ihor TRUNOV, Ivan SEMYKIN) with Andjelo DZOMBETA, Marko NOVAKOVIC, Stefan VRDOLJAK and Vladimir TORUBAROV taking the bronze for Serbia.
“This was a very hard and a tough race but we did really well. To say the truth in the middle part of the course it was very close race but technically we did what we needed to. In the finish part we saw that there were a lot of very good boats around us, but we responded really well and won the gold medal. We have to move on now and concentrate on the World championships to qualify for Paris,” said CRAVIOTTO.
All results from day three of Canoe Sprint competition at Kryspinow Waterway can be found here.
The rest of the day is reserved for semifinals in eight disciplines. All results of the penultimate day of Canoe Sprint competition can be accessed 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 started on 21st of June. The closing ceremony will take place on July 2nd.