South African Andy Birkett wins gold at Canoe Marathon World Championships in Portugal – SAPeople

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South African Andy Birkett wins the Canoe Marathon World Championships in Portugal. Photo: Luis Eiras/ Photo Duarte

Ponte de Lima, Portugal – South African Andy Birkett gave a masterclass in marathon racing as he became the 2022 world champion, winning a thrilling senior men’s K1 gold medal at the World Championships in ICF Canoe Marathon on the Lima River on Saturday afternoon.

Birkett had to fight to stay in contention for the first part of the race, bouncing back from an unusually poor carry to get into the perfect position for the final sprint involving five athletes.

Birkett, who also won gold at the World Games in the United States earlier in the year, produced the raw speed needed to beat hometown hero Jose Ramalho and reigning Danish world champion Mads Pedersen.

“There’s so much depth and the racing level is so strong,” Birkett said afterwards.

“The whole way I was just trying to stay in touch and I thought a podium finish would have been amazing. I even thought I’d settle for fifth place! he said.

“It was a complete surprise,” said the East London-based star, who won her first marathon world title in Portugal in 2018. “I was in the right place going into the final sprint, and I think I surprised myself!”

Birkett said he was happy to be able to handle the setbacks he encountered in racing.

“Everyone goes through stages of running when they’re not feeling well and you make little mistakes. It’s marathon running and you just have to try to catch up.

“Mads (Pedersen, from Denmark, who finished third) swam today, so things can happen to anyone. Luckily I was able to recover from my first carry, which was pretty bad.

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Andy Birkett became the world champion by winning the senior men’s K1 race at the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Ponte de Lima, Portugal on Saturday. Photo: Jason Ward/Gameplan Media

Birkett and teammate Hamish Lovemore were in the center of a six-boat field at the front of the eight-lap, 29.8-kilometre race.

Although he won the World Under-23 title twenty-four hours before Lovemore rocked the senior men’s race with his impressive challenges and only faded on the last lap to finish fifth.

Nikki Birkett rode the lone charge in the women’s K1 race which was dominated by the trio of Sweden’s Melina Andersson, Britain’s Sam Rees Clark and Hungary’s Vanda Kizsli.

Birkett retired on the first carry with forearm cramps and a shifting footrest troubling her, as Kizsli edged Andersson to win the world title.

In the morning session, Hungary retained the Junior Men’s K1 title as Bruno Kolozsvari held off Argentinian Julian Salinas, South African Josh Simpkins finishing eleventh and Matt Coetzer finishing fourteenth.

The live broadcast of the races is available on https://www.canoeicf.com/canoe-marathon-world-championships/ponte-de-lima-2022

SUMMARY OF RESULTS:
ICF WORLD CANOE MARATHON CHAMPIONSHIPS (day three)

K1 junior men (K1 means one person in the kayak)
1 Bruno Kolozsvari HUN 1:40:30.32
2 Julien Salinas ARG 1:40:36.56
3 Bertram Sorensen DEN 1:41:41.74
11 Joshua Simpkins RSA 1:44:27.85
14 Matthew Coetzer 14 RSA 1:47:43.34

K1 Senior Women
1 Vanda Kiszli HUN 2:05:55.35
2 Melina Andersson SUE 2:05:56.99
3 Samantha Rees-Clark GBR 2:06:18.97

K1 Senior Men
1 Andy Birkett RSA 2:08:25.94
2 Jose Ramalho POR 2:08:27.04
3 Mads Pedersen DEN 2:08:27.36
4 Ivan Alonso ESP 2:08:31.63
5 Fernando Pimenta POR 2:08:43.33
6 Hamish Lovemore RSA 2:09:29.06

ICF WORLD CANOE MARATHON CHAMPIONSHIPS

Sunday October 2
8:50 K2 Men Juniors
8:55 C2 Men
11:15 K2 Women
14:00 K2 Men

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