26 September 2020

It has been an interesting 12 months for American teenager Nevin Harrison, what with Covid-19 lockdowns and being a canoe sprint world champion and all that.

The big question was – could she return to the scene of her greatest sporting triumph, carrying the pressure of being the best in the world, and repeat the performance? After all, she’s still just 18, and surely could be forgiven if the pressure proved too much.

But on Saturday afternoon in Szeged, Hungary, Tokyo-bound Harrison showed she’s up to the challenge. She might have only got there by 0.02 of a second, but a win is a win.

Watch a video of the women's C1 200 final here

“It’s really exciting, it was super close this year and there are a lot of very talented girls out there,” Harrison said.

“The race definitely wasn’t my best. I messed up the start and I thought that might be done for me. But I was able to get my rate back up and get going again, which I’m pretty proud of myself for doing because I was definitely off my game.

“The other girls have obviously got a lot faster, but I’m hoping that I’ve got a lot faster too.”

The tricky wind conditions make comparisons with last year difficult, and one or two of last year’s world championship finalists were missing. But Harrison still had to stare down last year’s silver medalist and fourth place getter, and deal with a much improved Ukranian, Liudmyla Luzan, who finished just a coat of paint behind the American.

The other girls have obviously got a lot faster, but I’m hoping that I’ve got a lot faster too

“I think the pressure is still there, if not even stronger now because I was able to do it again,” she said.

“I definitely felt the pressure when I was warming up and getting ready because I felt like I needed to get a gold. I think the pressure will be similar, if not more, for the Games next year after all this. Now I’ve been able to see how talented and quick the other girls are getting.

“I know Ukraine has got some really fast girls this year. At the end I didn’t even know if I got first or second, it was so close.”

Harrison was one of the few non-European athletes who could get to Szeged for the world cup. Leaving nothing to chance, and desperate to get back into competitive competition, she arrived in Europe nice and early.

Watch an interview with Nevin Harrison here

“I’m just happy we could come to Szeged and get on the racecourse again,” she said.

“I’ve been in Hungary for the last two weeks training. Training here is amazing, I love the weather, I love the water and the people are awesome too.

“This is my second race of the year, my first race was last weekend, so I’m definitely not use to going head-to-head like that.”

If everything goes to plan next year, Harrison will be part of Olympic history as women's canoe makes its Games debut. But she wants more than that. Only three people, barring dead-heats, can be the first ever Olympic medalists in women's C1, and she wants to be one of them.

Pics by Bence Vekassy

USA <a href='/webservice/athleteprofile/96623' data-id='96623' target='_blank' class='athlete-link'>Nevin Harrison</a> C1 200 Szeged 2020

Canoe Sprint
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