Takaku and Jackson shine under lights at freestyle world titles

Japan’s Hitomi Takaku broke through for her first world title and American Dane Jackson regained the crown he lost two years ago on a dramatic final night under lights at the ICF canoe freestyle world championships in Sort, Spain.

A capacity crowd lined the banks of the purpose-built freestyle venue, and watched as first Takaku and then Jackson showcased some of the most exciting moves in the sport to clinch gold.

Two years earlier in San Juan, Argentina, Takaku finished third and Jackson had to settle for silver, but the pair were leaving nothing to chance on Saturday night.

Takaku threw down a score of 646.67 on her second of three rides, which turned out to be more than enough to clinch the title.

“I’m so excited, so happy, this is the best day of my life,” Takaku said.

“It was so hard under the lights, because not always my moves were working. But of course, tonight will be a party night.”

France’s Marlene Devillez took the silver with 570 points, a repeat of her result from Argentina, while Poland’s Zofia Tula improved one place to take the bronze with 553.33 points.

Japan Hitomi Takaku freestyle world championships Sort 2019

Two years ago Jackson watched on as Spain’s Joaquim Fontane snatched away his world crown with a massive final round ride. On Saturday Fontane was not able to repeat the heroics in front of his noisy home crowd, having to settle for silver behind the now three-time world champion.

“It was a super-sick final, all these guys were paddling so well, and it’s always such a challenge, because in three rides, anything can happen,” Jackson said.

“Until I saw the old videos, it didn’t really hit me that my dad had won here 18 years ago, and now I get to win one in the exact same place, the same arena.

“I’m so fired up. I just hoped this year for a good time, to hang out with good friends all over the world, but to be able to come out on top feels good.”

Jackson sealed the gold with his first ride of the night, picking up 1406.67 points which could not be topped. Defending champion Fontane took silver with 1260 points, while France’s Sebastien Devred repeated his result of two years ago to win silver with 1211.67 points.

The 2021 ICF Freestyle World Championships will be held in Nottingham, Great Britain.

Pics by Bence Vekassy

Men's final freestyle world championships Sort 2019

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