Two of the biggest showdowns on the Olympic canoe sprint programme are set to unfold on Thursday, as the sport celebrates the first ever women’s canoe final, and gold medal legends Lisa Carrington of New Zealand and Danuta Kozak of Hungary face off over 500 metres.

The final of the women’s C1 200 is shaping up as a head-to-head battle between six-time Canadian world champion Laurence Vincent-Lapointe, and American teenager and reigning world champion, Nevin Harrison.

Vincent-Lapointe missed the 2019 world championships after returning a positive drug test, however was later cleared to return to racing. In her absence Harrison took the world title in Hungary in 2019, and the 19-year-old followed up that form with a world cup win earlier this year.

The two have never raced each other, setting the scene for an epic battle on Thursday.

Hungary’s Kozak will be aiming for a third consecutive Olympic gold medal in the women’s K1 500, but will come up against a New Zealander who is aiming to make Games history and who already has two gold medals in Tokyo.

Carrington is the reigning world champion in the event, and is hoping to become the first athlete to win four canoe sprint medals at a single Olympics.

The men’s K1 200 is also shaping as a wide-open event, after reigning Olympic champion Liam Heath of Great Britain missed direct qualification from the heats and had to win his quarter final to progress to Thursday’s semi-finals.

Spain’s Saul Craviotto, at his fourth Olympics and with a silver and bronze medal already to his name, easily progressed to the semis, as did Hungary’s Sandor Totka, who defeated Heath at the European Championships earlier this year.

In the men’s K2 1000, reigning world champions and Olympic gold medal favourites Max Hoff and Jacob Schopf won through to the semi-finals, but the Germans had to settle for second in their heat behind Australian young guns Tom Green and Jean van der Westhuyzen.

The Australians set a new Olympic best time in the strong tail winds, almost two seconds quicker than the mark set by two-time world championship silver medalists Francisco Cubelos and Inigo Pena of Spain in their heat.

Gold medals in the women’s C1 200 and K2 500 and men’s K1 200 and K2 1000 will all be decided on Thursday.


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