Lisa Carrington ignited the final day of the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Championships in Szeged by adding the K1 500m title to the K1 200m crown she banked on Saturday to complete an exhilarating golden double.
The Kiwi kayak great was at her devastating best as she obliterated a world-class field to regain the world K1 500m she last snared four years ago in Milan.
From the first few strokes, the 30-year-old from Ohope asserted her dominance and by 150m she was already, remarkably, a boat length up on the field.
By the halfway mark the Kiwi kayaking superstar held a monster 1.93sec advantage on her nearest pursuer, the 2017 world champion Volha Khudzenka, with the defending world champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist Danuta Kozak of Hungary a distant fourth.
Khudzenka, of Belarus, marginally closed the gap in the second half but Carrington – with her beautifully rhythmic style – was never seriously challenged and proved a class apart to secure her second gold medal in Szeged.
The Kiwi crossed the line champion in 1:55.76 – 1.63 clear of Khudzenka in silver. Competing on home water, Kozak made a spirited charge in the second half of the race but had to settle for bronze in 1:58.01.
Carrington has now won a remarkable 17 World Championship medals including ten golds in her stellar career and by striking gold she also ensured her country qualified a boat in the women’s K1 500m at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The double gold medallist later returned to the water alongside Kayla Imrie, Aimee Fisher and Caitlin Ryan for the A Final of the women’s K4 500m as the New Zealand crew placed fourth.
The Kiwis, who 12 months ago won a World Championship silver medal in this discipline, made a decent start and narrowly trailed Belarus over the first third of the race.
However, by halfway, Hungary, the defending champions, had made a significant move to nudge ahead of Belarus with New Zealand sitting third – 0.41secs further back.
In the second half the host nation stamped their authority on the race to build on their advantage and ran out impressive winners in front of a delirious home crowd in 1:32.91.
Belarus took silver in 1:33.69 with Poland finishing powerfully to take bronze in 1:34.77. The Kiwis has to settle for fourth in 1:35.35 but had the consolation of banking an Olympic spot in this discipline for the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Carrington said of winning the K1 500m and her second World Championship gold medal of the regatta: “It was wicked. It is always scary going out there knowing this is my one chance every year where I have deliver my best performance. We had a strong headwind, which always makes things more challenging, and this added quite a few more seconds on to the race.
“I went out there, did the best I could and today I earned the rewards for all the hard training. It is an event that challenges me hugely, so it is great to be able to nail it.
“The K4 was really challenging,” she adds of their fourth-place finish. “We are racing the best crews in the world and to compete against them is pretty special. Today shows how big the challenge is leading into next year and I’m looking forward to stepping up to see how we can improve.”
Max Brown and Kurtis Imrie signed off their open World Championship debut with a plucky display to place sixth in a fiercely competitive B Final of the men’s K2 1000m.
The Kiwi duo had performed with distinction in both the heats and semi-finals and competing from lane one into a tricky headwind the Cambridge-based pair made a strong start and at half-distance
sat in fourth – 1.64secs down on leaders Belgium.
In the second half of the race the powerful Danish combination of Rene Holten Poulsen and Morten Graversen came to the fore, while Brown and Imrie had slipped to eighth by the 750m checkpoint.
The resolute Kiwis, however rallied in the latter stages to haul themselves back up to sixth to record a competitive 3:31.66.
The Danes secured top spot 2.65secs clear, but the men in black can earn huge kudos from the manner of their performances here in Hungary.
Quaid Thompson finished a highly respectable 12th in the long-distance men’s 5km A Final. Competing in a starting field of 35 the Poverty Bay paddler would have pleased with his efforts in completing the course in 21:14.72 – 1:20.64 behind gold medallist Aleh Yurenia of Belarus.
Thompson’s performance was a significant upgrade on the 2018 World Championships final, where he placed 18th.
Article Steve Landells
Image: Lisa Carrington – gold medal winner in the K1 500m. Credit: Bence Vekassy/ICF