More than 800 athletes from around the globe, including World Champions and Olympic gold medallists, will compete in this weekend’s ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup 2 at Szeged, Hungary.
Many of the winners from the opening World Cup in Portugal last weekend will be looking to defend their titles this weekend, but will find it much harder with athletes from 66 nations nominating to compete.
It’s the first major event to be held in Szeged, which considers itself the spiritual home of sprint canoeing, for two years. Szeged will be hosting the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships.
Among the powerhouses of Europe, Oceania and North America will be athletes from lesser-known paddling countries like India, Iran, Puerto Rico, Ghana, Tunisia and the Phillipines.
The gold and silver medallists from the men’s K1 1000 in Rio, Marcus Walz (Spain) and Josef Dostal (Czech Republic), will be among a strong field kicking the program off on Friday morning.
And the gold and silver medallists from the K1 200 in Rio, Great Britain’s Liam Heath and France’s Maxime Beaumont, are sure to make their sprint event a hard-fought affair.
New Zealand’s double Olympic gold medallist, Lisa Carrington, has added the K1 500 to her program this weekend after helping New Zealand to pick up three gold medals in team boats last weekend.
Carrington won bronze in the 500 in Rio, and will face the silver medallist, Denmark’s Emma Jorgensen, this weekend. But she has opted not to race her Rio gold medal event, the K1 200.
However after joining with Caitlin Ryan to blitz the K2 500 field in Montemor-o-Velho, the New Zealanders will take on German silver medallists Franziska Weber and Tina Dietze in Szeged.
Also in the field will be Rio gold medallist, Gabriella Szabo, who will team up with super experienced Krisztina Zur-Facekas.
German legend Max Hoff will pair up with one half of the successful K2 1000 team from Rio, Marcus Gross, in a race that will pit them against the Olympic silver medallists, Serbia’s Marko Tomicevic and Milenko Zoric.
Hoff and Gross were also part of the German K4 crew that won gold in Rio.
The men’s C2 1000 will pit the Rio gold medallists, Germany’s Sebastian Brendel and Jan Vendrey, against bronze medallists Dmytro Ianchuk and Taras Mishtuk of Ukraine.
After dominating their event in Portugal, the Hungarian pair of Virag Balla and Kincso Takacs will confront much bigger fields in the women’s canoe events this weekend.
There will be lots of new combinations in the K4 boats, but the nucleus of Hungary’s gold medal team and Germany’s silver medal combination will be racing in the women’s 500.
In the anticipated new men’s Olympic event of K4 500, Slovakia’s has kept it’s silver medal-winning team from Rio together, and will be looking to reverse the result against Germany, who has lost half its gold-medal winning crew from Rio.
More than 60 competitors have nominated for the first Paracanoe event of the season, from 19 countries across four continents.
Among at least seven medallists competing will be Hungary’s Robert Suba, Germany’s Edina Muller, France’s Cindy Moreau and Austria’s Markus Swoboda.
The ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup 2 begins in Szeged on Thursday afternoon, and continues through until Sunday.
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Photo: Rémy Gros