Lisa Carrington claimed a magnificent seventh successive women’s K1 200m world title as the incomparable Kiwi kayak maestro once again proved far too good for the rest.
The 30-year-old, who is also a double Olympic K1 200m champion, started a heavy pre-race favourite but shrugged off any pressure she may have felt with another scintillating performance, which almost defied belief.
Quickly establishing control of the race with her characteristic blistering start, Carrington was, remarkably, already more than clear length ahead by half distance.
She then continued to lengthen her advantage on a world-class field to rack up a near two-second margin of victory; stopping the clock in 39.39 to secure gold at the same venue where she won her maiden world K1 200m title eight years ago.
Behind, in an almighty scrap for the minor medals, Olympic silver medallist Marta Walczykiewicz of Poland grabbed silver in 41.33. Just one-hundredth of a second further back Denmark’s Emma Jorgensen and Spain’s Teresa Portela shared the bronze medal.
Yet this race was all about the sheer unerring brilliance of Carrington, who maintained her unbeaten sequence in this event which stretches back seven years, and, who secured a top five position to ensure New Zealand has qualified a boat in this event for next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
“It was cool to be back in Szeged eight years on from my first World Championship victory in the K1 200m,” explains Lisa, who today was competing into a slight headwind. “I really experienced those similar feelings of excitement and nerves.
“It was very special to come back here and qualify New Zealand a boat for the K1 200m for next year’s Olympics. Eight years ago that was all I wanted to do; go the Olympics. So, to still be world champion today and qualify a boat for the Olympics is really special.”
On another memorable day for New Zealand kayaking, Para canoeist Scott Martlew claimed a well-earned bronze in a highly-competitive A Final of the KL2 200m.
The Christchurch-based paddler, made a positive start and at halfway sat in equal second behind Italy’s surprise package Federico Mancarella, who had pushed out to a three-quarter length clear at halfway.
In a dramatic second half of the race, defending champion and 2016 Paralympic gold medallist Curtis McGrath emerged from the pack with a blistering burst of speed. And it was the Australian who timed his gold medal bid to perfection to retain his crown in 42.35.
Mancarella, who has made a huge improvement since placing fifth at last year’s World Championships, grabbed silver in 42.80.
Martlew stuck gamely to his task and held on for a richly deserved bronze in 43.51 – 0.26 clear of Mykola Syniuk of Ukraine.
After winning world KL2 200m silver 12 months ago a bronze was just reward for Martlew, who snared a gold medal at the ICF World Cup regatta in Poznan and enjoyed an outstanding international campaign.
The Kiwi crew of Alicia Hoskin and Caitlin Ryan placed a highly-respectable ninth in the A final of the K2 500m. The inexperienced combination performed outstandingly well to qualify for the medal race and they can be satisfied with their efforts.
The New Zealand pair struggled to keep pace with the top boats, crossing the line in 1:47.63 – 5.08secs adrift of the dominant gold medallists from Belarus. For Hoskin, 19, it was the Poverty Bay paddler’s open World Championship debut and she will have learned much from the experience.
Carrington later returned to the water for her semi-final of the women’s K1 500m and produced yet another imperious performance.
Looking in total control, the Kiwi rapidly built up a lead on the field and by halfway held a 1.35sec advantage over the chasing world and Olympic champion Danuta Kozak of Hungary.
Kozak slightly narrowed that gap in the second half but Carrington crossed the line a decisive winner, recording a time of 1:54.62 – some 0.93 clear of her Hungarian rival.
The Kiwi great qualified second fastest for tonight’s A Final (9.44pm) behind 2017 world champion Volha Khudzenka (1:54.23) of Belarus in what should prove a lip-smacking showdown.
Max Brown and Kurtis Imrie continued their quest in the men’s K2 1000m by placing sixth in their semi-final to advance to tonight’s B Final.
The duo made their characteristic lightning start and by 250m held a clear length lead on the field. At the 500m mark that advantage was whittled down to just 0.01 from the chasing Hungarian boat. The Kiwis slipped back to finish sixth (3:18.94) but it was still a noteworthy performance by a young, developing crew both making their open World Championship debut.
The semi-final victory was taken by Italian pair of Luca Beccaro and Samuele Burgo in 3:16.02.
Quaid Thompson wrapped up his K1 1000m campaign by placing seventh in the C Final in 3:49.05
The Poverty Bay paddler started the race with typical intent, and, competing in lane one, hit the 500m checkpoint in second – 0.57 behind Tamas Gesco, the eventual race winner from Germany.
Thompson, who posted back-to-back personal best times in the heats and semi-finals slipped back in the second half of the race and could not add a third lifetime best mark, but the 21-year-old can be proud of his performance in Hungary. Tomorrow he returns to compete in the men’s 5km.
Besides Carrington’s K1 500m A final, the other Kiwi highlight of the final day of competition, which begins later today, is the A Final of the women’s K4 500m, featuring Carrington, Kayle Imrie, Aimee Fisher and Caitlin Ryan. Twelve months ago at the last World Championships the same quartet banked silver, finishing just 0.01 behind the Hungarian quartet, in a thrilling battle.
Day Five Kiwis in action
9.11pm – Max Brown/Kurtis Imrie – Men’s K2 1000m – B Final
9.44pm – Lisa Carrington – K1 women’s 500m – A Final
11.11pm – Lisa Carrington/Kayla Imrie/Aimee Fisher/Caitlin Ryan – Women’s K4 500m – A Final
2.25am – Quaid Thompson – Men’s 5km Final –
Full results and livestream video on the ICF website