The Hungarian kayaker duo of Blanka Kiss and Anna Lucz made their debut at the World Kayak Canoeing Championships in Duisburg, Germany, where they won the race to secure their place in the finals.
The first members of the delegation to take to the water were the canoe 200m individual medalists on the route at the city’s Sports Park, which is hosting the World Championships for the sixth time.
Ferencváros’ veteran canoeist Virág Balla is also competing for a quota in Germany, where she will need to finish in the top five. In the heats, she finished third, but she was not entirely satisfied.
“I came out very early to warm up, because I knew that I would have a hard time getting in the mood for the race, but I need to do very well to get as few strong opponents as possible in the middle heat. Maybe I got a bit stuck at the start compared to the others, but I am happy with the rest of what I did. I still wanted to win, so I am not happy with third place,” said the 29-year-old World silver medalist and European champion on the beach, adding that she loves the paddle route in Duisburg and is happy to be able to test her skills against her rivals here.
In the men’s foursome, U23 World champion Dávid Koczkás made a great debut, finishing second behind Italy’s Mattia Alfonsi and, like Balla, qualifying for the semi-finals.
Olympic, world and European 1000m champion Bálint Kopasz is now competing in the 500m individual and he finished second behind Moritz Willi Florstedt, representing his home country. This also means a mid-race continuation for him.
“I felt the course was good, the weather was favorable and the light tailwind supported me. The water is light, a bit similar to the Maty-ér (Maty-ér Race Track, officially known as the Szeged Olympic Center). I was in lane one, I did not want to look around, it was good the way it was,” said the 26-year-old kayaker from Győr, whose goal is to win a medal. “I prepared very hard all summer, I had four days off. I am confident that all my hard work will pay off,” he added.
Blanka Kiss and Anna Lucz took to the water as defending champions in the second heat of the K-2 200m and, as foreseen, took advantage of the opportunity to save the semi-final by finishing in the top three. The duo from Újpest finished first and qualified for the final.
“We tried our best to see what the water was like, what it is like to race here. The course went relatively well, although we still have to improve our start,” Lucz, who will compete in three events during the week, told MTI.
We will be more focused for the final, we will push ourselves even harder and then we hope everything will be perfect,”
added Kiss, who said that at home she was still thinking about the burden of being the defending champion and was nervous about it, but she does not feel that way here anymore, as “we are doing the same thing we have always done for four years and we want to enjoy racing”.
Two more Hungarian canoe teams, the Dóra Horányi-Kincső Takács duo (C-2 200 m) and Dániel Fejes (C-1 500 m) took to the water on Wednesday morning. Both teams finished third in their heats, which meant a straight advancing to the final for the former and a semi-final for the latter.
Photo: Facebook/Kajak-Kenu Győr
Both the Hungarian men’s and women’s kayak quartet will also continue their 500m medley relay races.
The women’s quartet of Alida Dóra Gazsó, Tamara Csipes, Eszter Rendessy and Dóra Hadvina could have saved themselves a second round by winning the preliminary heat on Wednesday, but after a poor start, the Chinese team proved faster and second place meant no straight through to the final. The team members were clearly not happy about what had happened.
“I am angry because our start was not very good and the whole course was very hasty, we were trying to catch up with the others who were really behind,” said Dóra Hadvina, Olympic champion in Tokyo, who is competing in her first international event in two years after missing last season due to the birth of her child. “Going one more course before the final is an advantage in some ways and a disadvantage in others. Both Eszti and Tamara still have numbers outside of this one, so it would have been better not to have a mid-race,” she added.
In the men’s event, the team of Bence Nádas, Kolos Csizmadia, István Kuli and Sándor Tótka couldn’t qualify for the top nine straight away, nonetheless won their first event with impressive confidence.
“I think that we managed to do everything we had planned and gave a maximum performance in a preliminary race in which we were not really chased. Of course, it was only the first heat, I am confident that we will get every millisecond out of it in the middle and the final,” said Csizmadia, who finished fourth in the K-1 200m.
The quadruple sculls race is of particular importance at the World Championships, as forty Paris quotas each will be up for grabs in ten-ten boats, and of the ten Olympic events, qualification is only possible in these two, with no chance of improvement. As a qualification, at least four nations from four continents must be among the qualifying teams.
The semi-finals and the finals of the opening day of the World Championships will be held on Friday.
Featured image: Facebook/Team Hungary