By Gonzalo Melero, our correspondent from Spain | Renata Csay seems to have no limit after winning her 12th gold medal this morning at the Marathon World Championships with her team-mate Ramóna Farkasdi. On a sunny morning in Rome, again the start was very strong by the Hungarians, who clearly wanted to tighten the gap to avoid a pile-up of boats going into the portage at the same time. Only the South African crew, Alexa Cole and Eloise Van Gysen, seemed to be able to follow the terrific pace, but were finally caught again by the onslaught behind.
Italians Stefenia Cicali and Anna Alberti were not in the trailing group, but slowly started to come back. After two laps leaders Csay and Farkasdi decided to wait for the main group and fellow Hungarians Hagymási and Kiszli, perhaps due to team tactics.
The race was fought over the next few laps. At the fourth portage, when a bad decision by the two South Africans split the race, both kayaks tried to pull out of the portage on the same side crossing positions, alas no one was able to recommence paddling.
The Hungarians and Italians then seized the opportunity given and pushed very hard, deciding the medals. At the last portage, Csay and Farkasdi broke away and crossed the finish line as world champions, while Cicali and Alberti claimed silver and Hagymási and Kiszli took bronze.
From the start it was clear that this race would only be about Hungary and Spain. The two Hungarian crews led the whole first lap, with the both Spanish boats only a few seconds behind.
Lap after lap, the second Hungarians, Varga and Sarudi, started to lose more and more distance from the leaders and at the half-way mark the medals were decided.
Graña/Ferro (ESP) and Kövér/Györe (HUN) completed a quick portage, but the Spanish were more skilful at the put out and managed to open up a 20-metre gap. They managed to keep their lead; Oscar Graña and Ramón Ferro became new world champions. A few seconds later, Márton Kövér and Attila Györe valiantly gained silver, bronze went to Campos and Manuel Sánchez.
At 12:30 it was time for the K2 Senior Men's race. Many good partnerships and experienced specialists were at the starting line, but surprisingly it was Simon van Gysen and Jasper Mocke (RSA), surfski specialists in only their second marathon ever, who lead at first. With lots of collisions between kayaks behind them, everybody had to paddle in wash.
Among the main favourites, Spanish Walter Bouzán and Álvaro F. Fiuza, as well as Emilio Merchán and Iván Alonso, managed to get good positions. Hank McGregor and Grant Van der Walt were not that lucky and remained at the back of the 20-K2-pack. Frenchmen Romain and Marcaud, current European champions, did not look comfortable at any moment. Hungarians Salga and Ceiner were also pushing hard at the front. Many young crews were showing case their best talent: Thele/Sletsjøe and Minde/Hamar (NOR), the Noe brothers (HUN), Tye/West and Farrell/Simmons (GBR), Borekx/Saelens (BEL) and Dal-Bo/Cáceres (ARG).
Arriving at the first portage, the two Spanish boats, Czechs Jakub Adam/Michael Odvarko and South Africans Van Gysen/Mocke were in the lead with a 50-metre gap.
Shortly after, drama came for the Czechs when they capsized as they got their paddles stuck on cables on the starting pontoons. There is only room for four boats on the pontoons; there was chaos when 8 to 10 boats arrived. The two Spanish crews and Van Gysen/Mocke managed to stay in the lead and they didn't let anyone close the gap, in fact expanding it by ten seconds on every lap.
Finally, everybody knew that the last portage would be exciting. The two Spanish pairs attempted it leading. A great run by Van Gysen and Mocke didn’t allow Merchán and Fiuza to break away. Bouzán and Fiuza took a bit longer to arrive, but they did it. Everything was set up for a great sprint.
Appearing at the last corner, just 300 metres from the finish line, Merchán and Alonso were leading with Bouzán and Fiuza on their left wash. Simon Van Gysen and Jasper Mocke couldn’t stand the pace and were already 20 metres behind with no chance of getting anything but bronze.
Merchán took a very wide line on the corner to approach the starting pontoon leaving no room for Bouzán and Fiuza, who had to move to the other side from behind. That space was seized by the leaders who started to powerfully sprint so that the current world champions couldn’t overtake.
So, Emilio Merchán and Iván Alonso claimed gold (Merchán for the fourth time, Alonso's second after yesterday’s title in K1) and Walter Bouzán/Álvaro F. Fiuza took silver. Impressive Van Gysen and Mocke gained bronze in their first international marathon ever. 4th position went to one of the main favourites at the start, Hank McGregor and Grant Van der Walt, who couldn’t manage to come back after a bad start, and 5th went to Jakub Adam and Michael Odvarko (CZE); a great come back after their capsize on the first lap.
For all results visit: www.sportscene.tv/flatwater/marathon/result-archive
- Saturday - C1 and K1 Marathon World Champions started their year reign
- Friday - Hungary dominates marathon worlds in Rome on day one
Proofreading: Nicolaas Harding