Despite the cold and windy conditions on day two of the Canoe Sprint World Cup in Szeged, Hungary, Australia’s paddlers delivered with a medal haul of two gold, two silver and one bronze.
Reigning VL1 200 World Champion Ben Sainsbury continues to go from strength to strength claiming Australia’s first World Cup gold medal for the season.
After a breakout season in 2022, Sainsbury came into the first World Cup as ‘one to beat’, but was able to shake off the pressure to deliver.
“I had a bit more nerves than I did last year. I definitely felt the pressure there, but it’s a little bit of extra motivation having a target on your back.
“My focus has switched over to the K1 this year with qualifications to Paris but still just ticking along in the Va’a, staying fit and keeping it fast,” he said.
Sainsbury said the conditions were testing and made it for a tough day at the office.
“It was rough out there, it was very cold. I had full thermals on and I’m still freezing, my hands were still cold so it was hard to feel where your hands were when you were changing the paddle.
“So a few changes were a bit dodgy and I nearly went out of my lane but managed to pull it just enough and execute a win,” he said.
Paralympic champion Curtis McGrath returned to the world stage in style, putting his competitors on notice with a gold medal win in the KL2 200 final.
It was McGrath’s first international race since the Tokyo Paralympic Games, proving that he hasn’t missed a beat as preparations for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games continue.
“It’s nice to be back, and to see some familiar faces and some new faces. I’m really stoked to be here and to be part of it again,” McGrath said.
“I think the purpose of this meet for us is to see where we are all at, see where our training is tracking…
“It was a lot of work for me to get back in shape, and I don’t feel like I’m still quite there yet, but at the same time it’s nice to see where we are at and where we can improve,” he said.
Olympic champion Jean van der Westhuyzen powered home in the men’s K1 500 final to deliver a silver medal for Australia.
The medals kept on coming for Australia, with Senior World Cup debutant Natalia Drobot bagging a bronze in the women’s K1 200 final, just ahead of team mate and fellow debutant Kailey Harlen in fourth.
Dual Paralympian Dylan Littlehales added his name to Australia’s medal tally, winning silver in the men’s KL3 200 Final.
Racing continues for the Australian Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe team on Saturday 13 May from 5pm AEST. Finals will be broadcast on Fox Sports and Kayo Sports from 7pm AEST.
For full results – click here