After 12 years of trying Portugal’s Jose Ramalho finally broke through for his first world title with a win in the men’s short distance final at the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Romania on Thursday.
Hungary’s Vanda Kiszli and Ukraine’s Liudmyla Babak successfully defended their world titles from 2019, while Hungary’s Balazs Adolf also notched up his first world title with a win in the men’s C1.
39-year-old Ramalho led for most of the men’s 3.4 kilometre K1 race, before being headed by Denmark’s Mads Pedersen at the start of the final lap. But Ramalho dug deep, outsprinting his much younger opponent to land his first world title in a career which began in 2009.
“I was very focussed, I’ve been focussed for the past months since the Europeans, so I knew I could do it,” Ramalho said.
“All this year I thought I could do it, and I passed all these favourites today, so it’s a party day now.
“Every time, year after year, I thought maybe I wouldn’t be a world champion. I always said okay, one more year, lets try again. It was 12 years doing that, so in the end I got it, and I’m really really happy.”
Pedersen finished second, while Spain’s Ivan Alonso took the bronze.
Kiszli won the inaugural K1 short track final in Shaoxing in 2019, and has also won the past two long distance world titles. After close racing for two laps, Kiszli pulled away to post an easy win over Great Britain’s Lizzie Broughton and Serbia’s Kristina Bedec, the silver medalist from 2019.
“I’m very happy, after two years without an international race, I of course am very happy,” Kiszli said.
“The long race is more my race, so this is a good warm-up, a chance to check the portage and the course.”
Babak has been the dominant in women’s canoe marathon racing since winning her first long distance world title in 2017. On Thursday she showed she is still well ahead of the field, defending her short-track title from 2019 and adding to the three marathon titles already to her name.
“This start was harder for me and a lot of pressure, because the short distance is more difficult for me and I love the long distance,” Babak said.
“It’s been a hard preparation because for two years I have not been able to compete, I don’t know what level my opponents are at, so I am very happy to be here and to have a win.”
Hungary’s Zsofia Kisban chased Babak throughout the race to take the silver in a repeat of the result from 2019, with Belarus’s Volha Klimava taking the bronze.
Hungary’s Balazs Adolf broke through for his first senior world title with a fighting win in the men’s C1. The former junior world champion has been focusing more on canoe sprint in recent months, but said he was thrilled to be back in marathon and on top of the podium.
“It was not easy, my running is very bad, but I was fast on the water,” Adolf said.
“I like the marathon a lot. Sprint canoe is a job, and this type of competition makes me very happy. For two years sprint has been first for me, and I didn’t have time for this, but it’s good to be back.”
Poland’s Mateusz Borgiel won the silver and Czech Jakub Brezina repeated his result from two years ago by taking the bronze.
The ICF canoe marathon world championships continue on Friday.
SHORT RACE FINALS
- BABAK Liudmyla (UKR) 00:18:32.93
- KISBAN Zsofia (HUN) 00:18:46.71
- KLIMIVA Volha (BLR) 00:19:11.79
- ADOLF Balazs (HUN) 00:16:04.23
- BORGIEL Mateusz (POL) 00:16:08.41
- BREZINA Jakub (CZE) 00:16:12.45
- KISZLI Vanda (HUN) 00:16:11.11
- BROUGHTON Lizzie (GBR) 00:16:14.95
- BEDEC Kristina (SRB) 00:16:16.37
- RAMALHO Jose (POR) 00:14:19.85
- PEDERSEN Mads (DEN) 00:14:23.13
- ALONSO Ivan (ESP) 00:14:28.59
- HORVATH Maja (HUN) 01:32:30.92
- REGENYE Julia (HUN) 01:32:42.28
- HOCKLY Saskia (RSA) 01:32:59.13
- KOVALEVA Alina (RCF) 01:06:05.79
- MATKOVICS Lili (HUN) 01:07:01.15
- BEZNIUK Katerina (UKR) 01:07:11.87
- SOLTESZ Peter (HUN) 01:35:20.97
- PONTECORVO Edoardo (ITA) 01:36:37.56
- GRIJALBA Daniel (ESP) 01:37:12.38
Pics by Balint Vekassy