After a sunny but rather windy weekend in Montemor-o-Velho (Portugal), Danish paddler René Poulsen has become one of the stars of the European Sprint Championships having won three medals, winning both K1 1,000 and 500 metres and adding a bronze medal in the 5,000 metres, rounding out one of his best weekends ever.
Very versatile German Max Hoff was able to be beside him twice on the podium, taking silver in 1,000 and a bronze in 500, which is not usually his preferred race distance. He also won the 5,000 metres in an amazing time of 19’52”. Miklos Dudas (HUN) was the silver medalist in the 500m and Josef Dostal (CZE), in very good shape lately, won bronze in 1,000m.
The time has come for the new generation of talented paddlers in their early and mid-twenties to claim a main role in international competitions. Not only did Poulsen get two gold medals, but U23 Czech canoeist Martin Fuksa got another two golds over 500m and 1,000m, beating Olympic champions like Brendel and Vajda who didn’t get to medal. The young Fuksa set a very solid pace, only Grzybowski (POL) could share the podium with him, taking both bronze medals, while Goubel (FRA) got the silver in 1,000m and Harazha (BLR) in the 500m.
As usual, the C2 1,000m allowed the eastern paddlers to show their domination of this discipline. From the very start Korovashkov and Pervukhin (RUS) took a two-boat advantage to put pressure on their rivals. Vasbányai and Mike (HUN) had a fantastic final quarter that almost allowed them to catch the Russians, even though their positions didn’t change the Hungarians only needed maybe 10 metres more to cause the upset. Two seconds behind, a photo finish sprint gave bronze to Dumitrescu and Mihalachi (ROM) over Radon and Dvorak (CZE).
Big names were also on the podium of the Women K1 500m with Dalma Benedek (SRB) claiming the European title in the Olympic distance after having brilliantly won the 1,000m the day before. Following her, the two big names of the race took silver and bronze in this order, Danuta Kozác (HUN) and Katrin Augustin-Wagner (GER).
Sunday was the 200 metres event - the top speed discipline race.
Of course, no surprises in the Men’s K2, where all the bets were on for Olympic champions Postrigay and Dyachenko (RUS) to win. With what looked like amazing ease they won once again, winning by more than half a boat. But in the K1, it was time for newcomers and outsiders to make their mark, people claiming that they could have been at the Olympics, like the winner Petter Öström (Remember an image from the Poznan pre-Olympic race with a wave splashing on Petter’s chest and leaving him out of London 2012) and new sprinters like the 18 year old silver medalist at this season’s Europeans, Marko Dragosavljevic (SRB) and the bronze medal Tom Liebscher (GER), born in 1993.
There weren’t many surprises in the Women’s K1 200m, as the expected favourites raced well. It was though, a very tight race where just some hundredths of a second gave gold to Marta Walczykiewicz (POL) over Teresa Portela (ESP), with the Hungarian star Natasa Janic taking bronze.
A similar tight finish occurred in the C1, with Valentin Demyanenko (AZE) racing hard to forget bad racing in 2012 with only Jevgenij Shuklin (LTU) between him and the European title. The Lithuanian, who had already performed very powerfully in the World Cups, claimed the title, with Demyanenko in silver. Russian Andrii Kraitor took bronze after pushing his boat so hard that he ended up in the water, but still finishing just ahead of the young Spanish Sete Benavides in fourth position and out of the medals.
For the photo album with all winners click here.
Finally, there was a good level of entrants in the Women C1 200m, where the times start to be really competitive and we see tight races in this rather new discipline. As with men, Eastern countries seem to take the lead and Maria Kazakova (RUS) got the European title. Silver medal went to Staniliya Stamenova (BUL) and Kincso Takács (HUN) got the bronze, all three of them in just 7 tenths of a second.