2014 Summary: McGregor and Csay Collect Double Gold in Oklahoma

Late dashes from two seasoned pros, Renata Csay (HUN) and Hank McGregor (RSA), proved decisive as they stole the show in their respective K1 races, the blue ribbon event at the 2014 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships, in Oklahoma, USA.

Combined with her victory in the K2W event it was the fifteenth world title for the 37-year-old Csay, who has dominated the upper echelons of the sport for over a decade. Right from the off the Hungarian challenged her rivals by gradually increasing the speed, and one after the other fell away until there were just two, Csay and the newcomer, Lizzie Broughton (GBR).

The young Brit pushed hard and gave everything, but couldn't match Csay’s final effort as the pair closed in on the finish line comfortably clear of the bronze medallist, Anna Koziskova (CZE).

For McGregor, in the K1 Men, the bunch didn’t leave quite so quietly, with a large group of paddlers hanging on right up to the final portage, pushing the now four-time K1 Marathon World Champion to his limits. However, the guile of the 37-year-old South African proved decisive. Outwitting his opponents, he managed to secure the best line into the final bend, then dug deep and pulled hard, leaving his exhausted opponents in his wake over the final few metres of the 30km race.

Iván Alonso (ESP) and José Ramalho (POR) collected the silver and bronze, finishing in that order.

The C1 Men’s title went to the impressive Manuel Antonio Campos (ESP) who has previous; winning his first world title back in 2012 followed by a silver at last season’s championships. For a large part of the race, Hungarian Marton Kover and Nuno Barros (POR) pushed him, but neither could contend with the Spaniard’s resilient and persistent stroke rate.

Duos Battle for Gold

In the K2 Women’s event, Csay joined forces with Alexandra Bara, a paddler 10 years younger than her highly decorated compatriot. The pair established a rhythm early on, executing an extremely polished and professional performance to ensure gold.

The Czech duo of Anna Koziskova and Lenka Hrochova collected silver, with the Brits, Samantha Rees-Clark and Amy Ward (GBR) gaining the bronze.

Talking after the medal ceremony, the star of the weekend, Csay said, “I’m very happy, the conditions were ideal, nothing like the humidity in Singapore, hot weather isn’t a problem.”

A delighted Bara highlighted just what an honour it is to paddle with the marathon superstar, stating, “It’s great paddling with Renata, she is the best, and I now have a gold too.”

Csay’s first world title was on her home course in Győr, situated in north-west Hungary, back in 1999. A course the World Championships will return to in 2015, this is a special venue for Csay, who had originally planned for it to be the curtain-closer on her glittering career. But now different thoughts are entering her mind. “It was planned ahead, I thought that I would finish in Győr, but it’s coming round so quickly, I think I will continue further.”

‘Going further’ seems to be the strapline for the mother of two who originally thought the one world title would suffice, “I thought if I could ever win a single world title I would quit right away, that would be the top. But one after the other, I just continued.”

On the course at the same time as the K2 Women was the C2 Men’s race, where Hungary added further to their gold haul as Marton Kover and Adam Docze pulled over the finish line first. Two Spanish crews, Manuel Antonio Campos and José Manuel Sánchez, and Oscar Graňa with Ramon Ferro, swiftly followed, in that order.

McGregor Continues Amazing Run

Later, the powerful duo of Hank McGregor and Jasper Mocke (RSA) took the main prize in the K2 Men’s race, providing Hank with his fifth World Championship gold and his second in two days.

The race went to the wire with second place decided by a photo finish, again between the two Spanish crews, where Walter Bouzán and Álvaro Fernández Fiuza were slightly quicker than Emilio Merchán and Iván Alonso.

Differing Approaches from Up-and-Coming Stars

The most convincing performance of the championship was delivered in spectacular fashion by the up-and-coming superstar from Hungary, Balázs Havas. He distanced himself by over 2 minutes from the chasing pack in the U23 K1 Men’s race.

Havas managed to break free of the group following a superb second portage. The courageous youngster continued to the finish line with a healthy lead, even managing to celebrate his victory with an appreciative crowd on his final portage. Casper Pretzmann (DEN) was the best of the rest, pulling clear on the final portage, with László Solti (HUN) doing enough to secure bronze.

Tamara Takács (HUN), an athlete who has been touted as the next Renata Csay, had an indifferent defence of her title. First, the 18-year-old clearly hadn’t read the race handbook and mistakenly portaged on the first lap, providing her main rivals the upper hand. They seized the opportunity and powered on without hesitation. Next, there was an uncharacteristic spill from the Hungarian, who fell in on a scheduled portage when embarking, costing her more time.

Despite the mishaps, the talented youngster recovered to cross the finish line 14 seconds ahead of her main rival, Elisabetta Maffioli (ITA). Takács’ teammate, Lili Katona, took bronze.

Hungary’s Medal Spree

Not to be outdone, the Hungarian C1 Junior Men added further to their nation’s medal haul as Levente Gellért Balla and Bence Balazs Dori managed a one–two. Spain’s Angel Esteban Ortega followed them to collect bronze.

The first two U23 gold medals also went the way of the Hungarians, as Vanda Kiszli won the U23 K1 Women’s race and Kristof Szabo the U23 C1 Men’s event.

Daniel Laczo and Bence Balazs, and Dori Norbert Paufler and Akos Horvath managed another one–two for the Hungarians in the C2 Junior Men’s race.

Noemi Lucz and Dóra Sólyom (HUN) added to the impressive gold haul, as the pair edged ahead of their teammates in the push for the finish line in the K2 Junior Women’s race. Denmark also continued to show the strength of their youth development, as Katrine Græsbøll Christensen and Cathrine Rask took the bronze behind the Hungarian double, Tamara Takács and Noemi Pupp.

Another Dane, Mads Brandt Petersen grabbed gold, crossing the finish line in front of Antal Vidakovich (silver, HUN) and Louis Hattingh (bronze, RSA). The pair pushed the Dane right to the line with less than a boat’s length splitting the three rising stars.

The South African duo, Louis Hattingh and Jean Van Der Westhuizen, managed to outsprint the double threat from Hungary, after the trio of boats had yo-yoed for position over much of the 22.5km course, and it was the partnership of Oliver Gergely and Matya Koleszar (HUN) that won the dual for silver, outmanoeuvring their compatriots Antal Vidakovich and Peter Freistak (HUN).

The Championship now moves onto Győr, Hungary, in 2015, where the hosts will be looking to top their impressive twenty medal hauls from Oklahoma.

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