By Nina Jelenc | ECA

After two days of racing in junior and U23 categories it was time for senior events of the 2017 ECA Canoe Marathon European Championships in Portugal. Local fans went crazy when Jose Ramalho once again won the European Champion title, in women’s K1 event Renata Csay did the same, in men’s C1 it was Marton Kover who picked up the gold medal and in women’s C1 Liudmyla Babak won the race.

During the third competition day of the 2017 ECA Canoe Marathon European Championships in Ponte de Lima we saw some exciting racing. In men’s K1 event we even had to wait for some time to get the official results, because of the protest, so it was not clear until the very last minutes before the medal ceremony started who will get the bronze medal. At the end it was Quentin Urban (FRA) who picked up a medal and Ivan Alonso (ESP) finished fourth. But it was Jose Ramalho (POR) who crossed the finish line with the fastest time and his fans on the stands could celebrate another gold medal in his collection. Adrian Boros (HUN) was very close to Ramalho, finishing less than a second behind, and picking up a silver medal.

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Ramalho was more than happy after winning his fifth European Champion title, “It was fantastic, especially here in my country. It was unbelievable with this crowd. I am really really happy to be here and to get the fifth European title. Anyone could have won, lucky for me, I was in the front. In the last 200 metres I believed in myself. I was not sure, but I believed I could win. I was feeling good and it was perfect.”

It was even more intense final in women’s K1 event. Lani Belcher (GBR), Renata Csay and Vanda Kiszli (both HUN) paddled most of the race together. In the last portage Belcher and Csay speeded up and it was then only the question whether it will be a gold medal for Hungary or Great Britain. Centimetres decided in the end and Renata Csay won her fourth K1W European title in a row, her seventh altogether (not counting the titles in K2W events).

British sprint canoeist Lani Belcher, who competed in canoe marathon for the last time eight years ago, was only 0.22 seconds behind, and Vanda Kiszli (HUN) was third, 23.73 seconds behind.

Lani Belcher (GBR), Renata Csay and Vanda Kiszli (both HUN)

“Firstly, it’s great to be back doing some marathon. I’ve missed it. It’s so nice to be able to be back and to race against Renata and give everyone a good race to watch. The start was good and I think that put me in a good position in the beginning of the race. Then it was just about getting on the wash and getting away,” said Belcher.

Marton Kover (HUN) congratulated by Antonio Manuel Campos (ESP)

In men’s C1 race Marton Kover (HUN) won a gold medal. Hungarian canoeist, who is a reigning world champion, had more power after the last turn and then finished a little less than ten seconds ahead of Antonio Manuel Campos (ESP), who became European Champion last year in Pontevedra in front of his home crowd. Bronze medal also went to Spain, thanks to the performance of Manuel Garrido.

The first event of the day was women’s C1 race, where Liudmiyla Babak (UKR) led from the first strokes on and had more and more advantage with each lap. In the finish she had almost three and a half minutes advantage over Fruzsina Miskolczy (HUN). Jenifer Casal (ESP) finished third.

Liudmyla Babak (UKR)

The 2017 ECA Canoe Marathon European Championships will conclude tomorrow with senior K2 women, C2 men and K2 men events.

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