Pedersen goes where no marathon athlete has been before

Denmark’s Mads Pedersen made canoe marathon history in Shaoxing on Saturday, becoming the first ever athlete to win both an U23 and a senior world title title at the same ICF championships.

22-year-old Pedersen stunned the big Chinese crowd by repeating his performance from 24 hours earlier to chisel his name into the record books, this time beating the best paddlers in the world to take the gold medal.

Earlier this year Pedersen won both the U23 and senior European canoe marathon titles in the space of 24 hours, but few thought it possible to do it against the best in the world.

The title was not decided until the final 20 metres, with Pedersen outsprinting a pack of four that included South Africa’s defending world champion, Andy Birkett, and three-time minor medalist Jose Ramalho of Portugal.

“I can’t believe this came true,” he said.

“When I woke up this morning I did a little paddle to loosen up, and after I told my coach that today I felt very good. So I believed in it from the start.

“I went out there and wanted to give it my best shot, but halfway through the race I was starting to feel very tired, so I just tried to ride some good washes. I was trying to save my lungs, because I could feel them after yesterday.

“In the end I had some energy so I just spent it.”

Pedersen has been on the canoe marathon scene for several years, but has never filled the potential many experts believed he had.

But 2019 has been his breakout year, culminating with his part of canoe marathon history in Shaoxing.

“I put in everything I’ve got every day, and I have a very good coach, and my family and all my friends were helping me,” Pedersen said.

“At work I get some good hours, so I have some good space to do my training. Given all that support, it’s amazing.”

Silver went to Ramalho, while Argentina’s Franco Ramalho took the bronze. Defending champion Birkett was unable to match the frenetic finish of the medalists, eventually finishing fourth.

Denmark Mads Pedersen marathon world championships Shaoxing 2019

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