Marthe de Ferrer | At the World Marathon Championships this year, the Junior Women’s race was particularly interesting, with an impressive depth of talent. The winner, Hungary’s Tamara Takács was only 5th after the first lap, with a gap of 7 seconds behind the leader (Noémi Horváth, also from Hungary), but soon began to storm ahead into medal contention – leading the other 3 laps. Miriam Vega of Spain was in the leading group too, only .01 seconds behind Takács on lap 2, but the Spanish athlete faded slightly on the 3rd lap – coming a very respectable 5th place.
The penultimate lap served to distinguish between the outstanding field this year, as the top four athletes formed the leading group. Takács and Horváth were joined by Hermien Peters from Belgium, and the British Amy Ward. The four of them finished within 3 minutes of each other, in a testing final push for the line; Horváth was beaten by her teammate by less than 30 seconds, with Peters coming in a fraction behind to clinch bronze, and Ward finishing in 4th.
The rest of the girls were still fairly close behind, with only 6 minutes separating the winner and South Africa’s Emma Horner in 13th – showing just how phenomenal these girls are. This race bodes incredibly well for international marathon canoeing’s future, with a great number of excellent girls coming through the ranks. The new World Champion, Tamara Takács, still has another 2 years left as a junior, whilst Britain’s Amy Ward and Spain’s Miriam Vega are only in their penultimate year as a junior – meaning that next year’s race could be very exciting.
Do you have to choose?
Many young paddlers sometimes feel they are faced with a choice between marathon and sprint paddling. With many countries only offering a good level of funding to the Olympic disciplines, it is no wonder that so many talented athletes choose to focus solely on sprinting. However, in amongst the Junior Women this year were many paddlers who have clearly shown that there is no need to specialise as a junior.
Bronze medallist, Hermien Peters (who came 7th with Lize Broekx in the Senior Women’s K2 too) also came 5th this year (again with Broekx), at the ICF European Olympic Qualifer 500m K2 final. Additionally, Peters raced at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, 2010, where she finished with a bronze medal. About to start her first year of senior competition, Peters is definitely an athlete to watch.
Amy Ward is also a name well-known in the sprint world, often along with Rebeka Simon (the pair finished 3rd on Saturday in the Junior Women’s k2 race). Simon, normally slightly more familiar with Sprint distance (medalling at the Olympic Hopes Regatta) did incredibly well to medal at her first international marathon competition, and she, Ward, and Peters clearly show how compatible marathon and sprint canoeing can be – as well as how versatile and talented these athletes can be. With interest in our sport peaking after the Olympics, all the Junior Women have done much to demonstrate marathon canoeing at its best. Let us all hope that the next season of racing is just as exciting, competitive, and memorable for these athletes as this one has been.
For all results visit: www.sportscene.tv/flatwater/marathon/result-archive