The 2019 ECA Junior and U23 Canoe Sprint European Championships in Czech Republic has concluded with 500 and 200 metres finals. Belarus had another great day of racing winning five gold medals today, Ukraine won four gold medals, Poland and Russia celebrated three gold medals each, and Serbia and Czech Republic listened to the national anthem twice today.
Belarus and Russia were the most successful nations of this European Championships in Račice. Their athletes won 15 medals for each nation, many of them in Sunday's 500 and 200 metres finals.
Belarus celebrated gold already in the first final race of the day - women's junior 500 metres final - where Veranika Leaunik crossed the finish line ahead of Hungarian Anna Maro and Ukrainian representative Ivanna Dyachenko. Belarus also celebrated in U23 K1 women's 500 metres final thanks to Ina Sauchukl, who wss faster than Malgorzata Pulawska from Poland and Melina Andersson from Sweden. Aliaksandra Kalaur and Lizaveta Prykhodzka won gold in women's junior C2 500 metres final, ahead of Russians Angelina Gubanova and Anna Kniazeva, while French duo Laura Ruiz - Flore Caupain picked up bronze medal. Belarus also won gold medal in men's K4 U23 500 metres final, ahead of Slovakia and Russia. Aliaksandra Kalaur set the best time in women's C1 junior 200 metres final, where she shared the podium with Daria Gladkova from Russia and Polish canoeist Katarzyna Szperkiewicz.
Russia won gold medals in women's C1 junior 500 metres event with Daria Gladkova, Yuliana Putnina from Ukraine was second and Anhelina Bardanouskaya from Belarus third. Pavel Belov and Artem Pron were the fastest in men's C2 U23 500 meters final, Aleksander Kitewski and Arsen Sliwinski from Poland were second and Vladislav Lukashuk - Aliaksei Matusevich from Belarus third. The third gold medal of the day for Russia came in men's junior C4 500 metres final, where Russian crew crossed the finish line ahead of Romania and Ukraine.
Polish K4 set the best time in women's U23 500 metres final, where Hungary won silver and Russia bronze medal. Polish canoeist Dorota Borowska won two European Champion titles today. First she won in women's U23 200 metres final to add another gold later together with Sylwia Szczerbinska in U23 C2 200 meters final. In C1 Gabriela Ladicova from Slovakia and Bianka Nagy from Hungary joined her on the podium, and in C2 Ukrainian and Belarusian crews also picked up medals in this event.
Ukraine too had a successful day thanks to Anastasiia Chetverikova who was the fastest in women's U23 C1 500 metres event, where Ladicova from Slovakia finished second and Mariami Kerdikashvili from Georgia third. Chetverikova joined forces in C2 500 metres final with Liudmyla Luzan to win another gold medal, ahead of Moldovian and Belarusian crews. Ukraine was the strongest also in men's C1 200 metres finals. Pavlo Borsuk won in front of Stanislau Savelyeu (BLR) and Jiri Minarik (CZE) in junior final, while Oleh Borovyk won in front of Dmitrii sharov (RUS) and Mikita Miarhuyeu (BLR) in U23 category.
Young Serbian kayaker Biljana Relić became double European Champion in U23 category. In K2 500 metres she and Marija Dostanić won European Champion title ahead of Hungarian and Russian duos. Dostanić and Relić were Junior European Champions in 2016. Later in the day Relić managed to defend European Champion title from last year in U23 K1 200 metres final. Kristina Kovnir from Russia was second and Ina Sauchuk from Belarus third.
Host nation won two gold medals today. Jakub Zavrel was the fastest kayaker on the start of men's K1 U23 500 metres final, where Bojan Zdelar from Serbia and Jon Vold from Norway also won medals. The second gold medal of the day was won by Štepanka Sobiškova and Barbora Galadova in K2 junior 500 metres final. Denmark and Ukraine also stood on the podium in this event.
Magnus Sibbersen from Denmark repeated a success of this teammate Rasmus Knudsen from last year. Knudsen was crowned European champion in 1000 and 500 metres events in 2018 and Sibbersen managed to do the same this week. On Saturday he was unbeatable in 1000 metres event, and on Sunday he won ahead of Denis Dimitrov from Bulgaria and Tomaš Sobišek from Czech Republic.
Daniel Atkins from Great Britain was the fastest in men's Junior K1 200 meters final, where Nikita Barannikov from Russia won silver medal and Iago Bebiano from Portugal bronze medal. Badri Kavelashvili from Georgia was the best in U23 K1 200 metres final. Strahinja Stefanović from Serbia was second and Dmytro Danylenko from Ukraine third. Italian kayaker Irene Belan won in front of Ivanna Dyachenko from Ukraine and Veranika Leaniuk from Belarus in junior K1 200 metres final.
Hungary, Romania and Czech Republic won medals in women's junior K4 500 metres final, Germany, Russia and France stood on the podium in men's junior K4 500 metres final, while Laura Ruiz and Flore Caupain won in women's Junior C2 200 metres final ahead of crews from Russia and Spain.
The 2020 ECA Junior and U23 Canoe Sprint European Championships will be organised in Moscow, Russia.
Text and photo: Nina Jelenc, ECA