By Nina Jelenc

The second competition day of the 2021 ECA Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe European Championships in Poznan, Poland, brought the first medallists.
It has been three years since the last ECA Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe European Championships was held in Belgrade and the ECA medals were awarded. In 2019 European Games were held in Minsk and Poznan hosted the Paracanoe European Championships, but last year everything was cancelled. European paddlers were eager to compete and now the chance came at the Malta Lake in Poznan.
On the first day of the finals in canoe sprint and paracanoe Hungary and Ukraine each celebrated two gold medals. Balint Kopasz, 23-year-old Hungarian kayaker, showed strength in men's K1 500 metres final winning a gold medal ahead of Portuguese Joao Ribeiro and Czech Jakub Zavrel.
"It was a very good race with very hard opponents. I am in a very good form. This is the most important for me. Today the weather was very good," said Balint Kopasz, who already looks forward to the final of the men's 1000 metres race where he again aims for the top.
Hungary also celebrated a win in women's K2 1000 metres event with Tamara Csipes and Erika Medveczky. They were more than five seconds faster than Laia Pelachs - Begona Lazkano (ESP) and more than eight seconds faster than Martyna Klatt - Sandra Ostrowska (POL) who were third.
Liudmyla Luzan produced a superb final performance in women's C1 500 metres event. Ukrainian canoeist was six seconds faster than Virag Balla from Hungary, while Alena Nazdrova (BLR) picked up bronze medal. Nazdrova was the defending European Champion and also holds the World title in this event.
In men's K4 1000 metres event Belarus crew with Pavel Miadzvedzeu, Ilya Fedarenka, Kiryl Nikitsin and Vitaliy Bialko reached the top position. Balint Noe, Tamas Kulifai, Peter Istvan Gal and Bence Dombvari from Hungary were second and Russians Oleg Gusev, Oleg Siniavin, Maxim Spesivtsev and Vitaly Ershov were third.
Russia celebrated gold medal in men's C2 500 metres event. Viktor Melantev and Vladislav Chebotar crossed the finish line ahead of Germans Sebastian Brendel - Tim Hecker and Ukrainians Vitaliy Vergeles - Andrii Rybachok.
At the end of the competition day paracanoe Va'a finals were held. Nataliia Lahutenko won the title in women's VL3 200 metres final beating the defending champion Larisa Volik from Russia. Annette Kummer from Germany was third.
In men's VL3 event the medallists were very levelled. The new European Champion Patrick O'Leary from Ireland was only 0.100 seconds faster than Spanish representative Adrian Mosquera in second place, and 0.380 seconds faster than Eddie Potdevin from France who was third.
Norberto Mourao celebrated a gold medal for Portugal in men's VL2 final, where Higinio Rivero (ESP) won silver medal and Robert Suba (HUN) was third.
Unfortunately three final races did not count for the European Champion titles as there were not enough athletes from at least five countries on the startline. Mariia Nikiforova (RUS), Katharina Bauernschmidt (GER) and Veronica Biglia (ITA) were top three in women's VL2 event, Lillemor Koeper and Esther Bode (both GER) competed in women's VL1 race, while Artur Chuprov (RUS) was the only one on the start line of men's VL1 event. 
On Saturday European Championships continues with semifinals and finals in Olympic events.
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