Hilgertova and Gestin continue their outstanding 2019

Czech Amalie Hilgertova proved once again that the nerves that have dogged her canoe slalom career for six years are behind her, with a fighting win in the women’s K1 at the junior and U23 canoe slalom world championships in Krakow, Poland, on Friday.

Frenchman Nicolas Gestin showed the hype which has surrounded him is well placed, picking up the gold in the men’s C1 U23 competition. For both Hilgertova and Gestin it is their second major gold medal for 2019.

Hilgertova is enjoying the best season of her career, her gold medal on Friday coming after winning the European senior title at the start of the season. She said it’s been a long time coming after bursting onto the international stage in 2013 with a junior world championship gold medal.

“I’ve been waiting for an under 23 medal for a very long time, and every time I lost it because of my head I think,” she said.

“This year I have managed to get it together, and now this happens. I’ve started to do some focus, mental exercises, and that really helps me. My feeling on the water is much better, I’m more confident, I know what I’m doing, and I manage to be at the right place at the right time.

“I think after my first big medal in 2013 I had big expectations, not just from others but also from myself. I created big pressure on myself, and I was always nervous before the races, I couldn’t perform well. I think I told myself that I had had enough of this and I really started to work on it.”

Hilgertova kept her cool on the challenging Krakow course to post a winning time of 95.22. Polish paddler Klaudia Zwolinska sizzled down the course to post a 95.76, which included a two-second penalty, but the Czech was up to the challenge.

Germany’s Selina Jones was ecstatic after finishing third in 98.34, the best result of her career.

19-year-old Gestin won the men’s U23 C1 title, to add to the European U23 title he won earlier this month. It’s his first year in the U23 competition, after picking up a bronze medal last year at the junior world championships.

“I think to paddle at this level, two times, with the Europeans and the world championships, I like it so much to reach this level in the finals,”Gestin said.

“I didn’t think I was paddling well during the heats and the semi-finals, that was hard for me. But in the final I knew what I had to do, I knew I could go faster.

“Every day with my coach I try and learn new things, and I think next year I could learn even more with the new whitewater centre in Paris.”

Gestin finished with a time of 90.39, with French teammate Lucas Roisin second on 91.34. Irishman Liam Jegou took the bronze on 91.97, which included a two-second penalty that put him out of the gold medal position.

France Nicolas Gestin C1 U23 world championships Krakow 2019

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