Hungary picked up five gold medals on the final day of competition to cement itself as the dominant nation as the 2019 ICF junior and U23 canoe sprint world championships came to a close in Pitesti, Romania, on Sunday.
Canada’s Sophia Jensen repeated her performance of 2018, finishing the competition with three gold medals, while there were also golds on the final day to Germany, Russia, Poland and Australia.
Jensen celebrated her final race as a junior paddler by teaming with Julia Osende to defend the C2 500 title they won in Plovdiv last year. It added to the C1 200 and C1 500 gold medals she won earlier in the competition, the same medals as she won in 2018.
“I thought about it more today, I’m so happy, I really don’t know what to think,” Jensen said.
“I just love what I do, and love going out and doing the best I can. I’m super happy that this has all happened when I’m a junior, so I can learn how to cope with the stress and the nerves, and build on it for the seasons to come.”
There was also a double gold medal on the final day for Hungary’s Emese Kohalmi, and a second gold for teammate Andras Redl. The two junior paddlers come from the same small Hungarian town of Vac, and have both tasted success in canoe marathon.
Kohalmi’s gold came in the K1 junior women’s 500, and alongside Esther Rendessy in the junior K2 500.
“I didn’t think I could win two gold medals today, so I am very happy,” Kohalmi said.
Redl won the junior K1 500, to add to the K1 1000 he won on the opening day of competition.
“This was my dream, from my childhood,” he said.
“I watched big kayakers, watched them paddling fast with strong finishes. I always wanted to be a single kayaker. My dream has finally come true, it’s a very happy day for me.”
The Australian men’s K4 500 combination of Riley Fitzsimmons, Tom Green, Jackson Collins and Jean van der Westhuyzen proved too strong in their final, adding to the K1 1000 gold won by green and the K2 1000 gold of Collins and van der Westhuyzen on Friday.
“It was a very special day,” Fitzsimmons said.
“It was just one of those races where everything came together on the day. It was a great last 200 and we managed to hold on.”
After two silver medals, Hungary’s Noemi Pupp broke through for gold in the women’s K1 U23 500. She said it was the event she was most focussed on.
“It was a hard weekend, there was so much pressure on me today because I really wanted to win the Olympic race,” Pupp said.
“I prepared fully for the 500, it was my goal.”
Germany’s Tom Maassen, Moritz Florstedt, Jochen Wiehn and Jack Gries won the men’s junior K4 500 gold medal, while the final gold medal of the competition, the women’s U23 K2 500, was won by Hungary’s Karina Biben and Olga Bako.
Biben and Bako are in their first year of U23 competition, having raced in juniors in 2018.