The end of the first Canoe Sprint World Cup of the season saw paddlers lay down a strong marker ahead of the impending Olympic Games in London. The final medals tally show Canada and Germany on top of the medals table with 9 medals; Belarus came in second with 6 medals followed by the host nation with 6 medals. Olympic Games host country Great Britain won two medals, a gold in Men’s K1 200m and a silver by the K2 200m pair Liam Heath and Jon Schofiled. The event which followed directly after the conclusion of the European Olympic Qualifier (Canoe Sprint) was used by some countries as a selection event for their London Olympic team.
Canada's Mark Oldershaw (interview in the video above) booked his ticket to the Olympic Games after winning gold in the C1 1000m event ahead of Sebastian Brendel (GER) who himself only qualified a few days earlier at the European Qualifiers. Ben Russell (CAN) followed in third place.
This feels incredible," said Oldershaw, an Olympic team member in 2008. The last few months has been such a build-up and to get it done on the day feels so good. The headwind was strong and I tried to not let it get to me. I knew I was as good as all these guys and once I reached the 500 I made sure they weren't going to get to me.
Elsewhere, the reigning Men’s K1 1000m world champion Adam Van Koeverden (CAN) had to make do with a bronze medal after taking an early lead, but was overcome in the final 200m by both Rene Holten Poulsen (DEN) and Eirik Veraas Larsen (NOR) who came in first and second respectively, thus pushing Van Koeverden into third place.
‘’It was good overall but sometimes early in the season I forget the pace a little bit,’’ said Van Koeverden, a three-time Olympic medallist. ‘’I knew Rene was going to be fast in the end so I just tried to stay relaxed and save some energy. I know my last 300 metres will be much, much better come August.’’
In the K1 200m final Great Britain’s Ed McKeever showed great form ahead of the Olympic Games and held off Spaniard Saul Craviotto who came in 2nd place and Russia’s Maxim Molochkov in 3rd place.
Great Britain’s Performance Director John Anderson said, "The standard of 200m racing has stepped up dramatically this year now it is an Olympic event and it is great to see that our most consistent athletes on the programme are still delivering at the highest level in what is only the first big race of the season.”
The Women’s K1 500m was blindsiding, as the lead surprisingly came from two exterior lines. The Danish rocket Henriette Engel Hansen in lane 8 and the steady Slovenian Spela Janic Ponomarenko lane 1 stole the show from the favourite to win and eventually bronze medallist Nicole Reinhardt (GER).
Local paddler Malgorzata Wardowicz, the newly Olympic Qualified Mira Veraas Larsen (NOR) and Anna Adamova (CZE) were neck and neck until the final 500 meters when Wardowicz pulled away. Wardowicz eventually crossed the finish line with a one length boat lead, despite a very strong finish by Larsen who deserved her silver medal. Adamova won bronze.
Inspired by the K1 1000m victory of their teammate Wardowicz, The Polish pair Beata Mikolajczyk and Aneta Konieczna took control of the K2 1000m race early in the race and put some severe pressure on their opponents. Never threatened by their pursuers,they won a second gold medal for Poland in just a few minutes. The late rush of the Austrian boat was just enough to grab the silver medal in front of the Americans Maggie Hogan and Kaitlyn Mcelroy.