The final day of action at the 2021 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Copenhagen on Sunday (19 September) saw three new world champions crowned in Olympic-class events.
A total of sixteen world titles were on offer, with six Olympic-class events taking place, including three that will be introduced at Paris 2024.
Travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic has also prevented many athletes from New Zealand and Australia from travelling out to Denmark for this event, including Lisa Carrington, who won an historic three gold medals at Tokyo 2020.
With Carrington unable to defend her world title in the women's K1 500m after recently clinching Olympic gold in the same event at Tokyo 2020, her compatriot Aimee Fisher rose to the occasion and delivered victory for New Zealand and her maiden world championship title.
The 26-year-old Fisher, who was controversially left off the New Zealand Tokyo Olympics team, beat the reigning Olympic silver medallist Tamara Csipes of Hungary, as well as reigning Olympic bronze medallist Emma Jorgensen of Denmark who finished second and third respectively in Copenhagen.
“It’s been tough. It’s definitely had its moments when I wanted to walk away, to give up because I didn’t think I could do it. But this is the icing on the cake to come here today, and show to myself that I can do this." - Aimee Fisher to International Canoe Federation (ICF)
It was a memorable win for Vincent, who has watched her teammate and C2 partner Laurence Vincent-Lapointe win six of the past eight titles in this event. The 25-year-old made up for her eighth place finish in the finals at Tokyo 2020, sharing with ICF after the win, "I have ups and downs since Tokyo, there were a lot of emotions and things to process, and there still is. It kept me going and I reconnected with my love for this sport.”
“I really feel like this is the beginning, there is a long road to go for me. I’m really looking forward to worlds next year at home, to be the reigning world champion added into a home world championships will be super exciting." - Katie Vincent to ICF
The very first men's C2 500 world title on offer was snatched by Italy's Nicolae Craciun and Daniele Santini.
The pair clinched their maiden crown in an event that will be added to the Paris 2024 Olympic programme.
"We are so excited, we made Italian history, so for us it is very important, the first gold medalists and world champions in this Olympic distance for Italy,” Craciun shared with ICF adding "“From this world championships begin a new Olympic cycle, so to start with this win is very good for us.”
Another event that will make it's Olympic debut at Paris is the men's K2 500m which made its debut on the world championship programme in 1948.
Spain's Marcus Walz and Rodrigo Germade reclaimed the title which they last won in 2017 when they beat Germany's Tobias Schultz and Martin Hiller to the finish line as Slovakians Samuel Balz and Denis Mysak completed the podium.
It was a big result for the Spaniards, who just scraped into the final with Walz sharing with ICF, "It’s been tough to get to the final, it’s been tough to train after the Olympic Games, it was difficult to maintain our physical performance."
“We’ve done one of the best races our life. We have been doing the K2 500 together for a few years, we love this distance, we love paddling together. Finally this race is an Olympic event, so this is great and we are very happy, so for now we want to keep paddling together." - Marcus Walz to ICF
Germany's Conrad-Robin Scheibner clinched his second world title of the event when he won the men's C1 500m event, which will also be added to the Paris 2024 programme.
The women's K4 500m saw Belarus upset the reigning champion Hungary who had won eight of the previous ten world titles going into this race.
However the very same Belarusian quartet of Marharyta Makhneva, Nadzeya Liapeshka, Volha Khudzenka and Maryna Litvinchuk who denied the Hungarians in 2015, did enough once again to deny the newly crowned Olympic champions in Copenhagen.
The Belarus team, who have been paddling together for a decade, edged across the line to narrowly snatch the win by just 0.16 seconds ahead of the Hungarians as the Russian Canoe Federation finished third.
“It happened because we believe in ourselves every time, and finally after so many second and third places, we won,” Volha Khudzenka to ICF
The Hungarian can take comfort in the fact that they ended the meet at the top of the medal table with four world titles and sixteen podium finishes.