Close racing highlights Asian U23 and Junior titles

Kazakhstan, Chinese Taipei and Thailand have dominated the 2017 Asian U23 and Junior Canoe Slalom Championships in Iran over the weekend.

Of the eight titles up for grabs on the Karaj River, Kazakhstan and Chinese Taipei both picked up three gold medals, while Thailand’s Atcharaporn Duanglawa picked up a golden double, taking both the women’s K1 and C1 U23 titles.

The contrast between the victories for Duanglawa was stark, with just 0.04 seconds between herself and fellow Thai, Thatchaporn Pornchai, in the K1. A gate touch cost Pornchai dearly, the two-second penalty putting her just behind her teammate.

There was no luck involved in Duanglawa’s C1 title, with more than 17 seconds splitting her time and that of Iran’s silver medallist, Yasaman Rezasoltani.

Penalties also cost another Thai paddler, with Jaruwan Niamthong picking up two gate touches and four seconds in penalties in the women’s K1 juniors. Her raw time of 87.98 was the fastest on the course, but the penalties put her behind Kazakhstan’s Kamilla Safina, who finished with 91.15 which included a two-second penalty.

There were close finishes in most finals over the weekend, with less than a second splitting the gold and silver medallists in five races.

Kazakhstan’s Adil Amanbayev won the men’s C1 junior final, his time of 84.77 enough to hold out fellow Kazak Yegor Ochakovskikh in 85.74.

Taipei’s Shao-Hsuan Wu had one of the closest finishes of the day, sizzling down the Karaj course in 76.19 to take the men’s U23 K1 gold. Kazakhstan’s Martin Stanovsky, a regular on the European senior tour, was second in 76.52. Both athletes had a gate touch.

It was a similar story for fellow Chinese Taipei paddler, Hung-Yuan Tang, who had only 0.60 seconds breathing space over Thailand’s Paitas Ngamsanga Paitas in the men’s junior K1. Tang made things more difficult for himself though, with a two-second penalty tightening the margin.

Another Thai, Peerapol Kaewboran, was third in just 82.34, making the men’s junior K1 the closest medal contest of the day.

Kazak teammates Alexandr Kulikov and Kuanysh Yerengaipov were involved in a classic stoush in the men’s U23 C1. Both put together clean runs, but it was Kulikov in 79.21 who prevailed.

Yerengaipov finished in 80.14, while Thailand’s Yutthaken Chaidet in 81.07 made up another close top three result.

Yu-Han Chung of Chinese Taipei had one of the day’s most convincing victories, winning the women’s C1 junior gold in 87.08. Kazakhstan’s Kamilla Safina, a gold medallist in the K1, was more than ten seconds behind in 98.59.

PIC BY ARYA JAFARI

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Bridgitte Hartley (RSA)
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