Ukraine surge ahead at the 2021 Canoe Sprint World Championships in Denmark

The eastern European nation clinches three titles as Hungary collects most medals on the first day of IFC flatwater finals in Copenhagen, with Tokyo 2020 Olympic champions going for more glory.

3 min By Sanjeev Palar
Anastasiia Chetverikova and Liudmyla Luzan of Team Ukraine
(Picture by 2021 Getty Images)

Ukraine went to the top of the medal table at the 2021 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Copenhagen after the first day of finals on Saturday (18 September).

The eastern European country won three of the twelve titles on offer, but it was Hungary who ended the day with the biggest haul of medals after amassing seven podium finishes.

In a break from tradition, the world championships in Denmark are being held in the same year as the Olympics after the Games were postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As such, reigning Olympic champions have the unique opportunity to become the first athletes in canoe sprint history to be crowned Olympic and world champion in the same calendar year. But none of the Olympic gold medallists who competed on Saturday were able to complete the feat.

Travel restrictions due to the pandemic have also prevented many athletes from New Zealand and Australia from travelling to this event in Europe, including Lisa Carrington, who won an historic three gold medals at Tokyo 2020.

In Carrington's absence, the women's K1 200m went to Emma Jorgensen for the host nation's first title of the meet. The 25-year-old who recently picked up two bronze medals at Tokyo 2020, including one in this event, paddled to her maiden individual world championship title.

Ukraine's first title of the meet came courtesy of Tokyo 2020 silver medallist pairing of Liudmyla Luzan and Anastasiia Chetverikova who clinched the women's C2 500m crown.

The men's quartet also delivered victories in the men's C4 500m and men's K4 500m events.

Luzan added another medal to her tally when she finished runners-up in the women's C1 500m which was won by Maria Mailliard from Chile.

Newly crowned Olympic champion Balint Kopasz from Hungary was narrowly denied defending the K1 1000m crown as he was pipped to victory by Fernando Pimenta. The Portuguese paddler, who won bronze at Tokyo 2020 in 2021, crossed the line 0.67 seconds ahead to reclaim the world title that he had previously held in 2018.

Portugal's Fernando Pimenta
Portugal's Fernando Pimenta (2021 Getty Images)

Hungary won two titles on Saturday thanks to their female paddlers. The first was Alida Dora Gazso who clinched her maiden individual world title by taking victory in the women's K1 1000 event. The 21-year-old crossed the line well clear of Great Britain's Lizzie Broughton and home favourite, Pernille Knudsen.

Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist pairing of Danuta Kozak and Tamara Csipes then added a second when they crossed the finish line narrowly ahead of the duo from Belarus in the K2 500m event.

Reigning Olympic champions in the C2 1000m event, Serguey Torres and Fernando Dayan Jorge Enriquez from Cuba, were unable to end their world championship title duck as they finished third behind winners Kirill Shamshurin and Vladislav Chebotar representing the Russian Canoe Federation (RCF) and Poland's Wiktor Glazunow and Tomasz Barniak.

The C1 1000m event saw Germany's Conrad-Robin Scheibner, who finished sixth at Tokyo 2020, fend off off Czech Republic's Martin Fuksa to clinch the world championship title as Hungary's Balazs Adolf finished third.

Sweden's Dennis Kernen and Martin Nathell won their their maiden title in K2 1000m race as Denmark's Simon Jensen and Morten Graversen finished behind them with Hungary's Balint Noe and Tamas Kulifai in third.

There were also twelve titles on offer in the Paracanoe World Championships which are being held concurrently.

Great Britain currently lead the medal table having won five world titles and an impressive ten podium finishes thanks to Emma Wiggs, Laura Sugar, and Jack Eyers who all delivered victories as Charlotte Henshaw netted two golds.

The meet continues on Sunday (19 September) with 17 more world titles on offer in Copenhagen.

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