By Nina Jelenc | ECA

The 2017 ECA Canoe Marathon European Championships in Ponte de Lima, Portugal, started according to expectations: the domination of Hungarian team. Representatives of Hungary took four gold and three silver medals in five events we saw the first day. Dorina Fekete was the best in women’s K1 junior event, Noemi Horvath in K1W U23 event, Sebestyen Simon in men’s C1M junior event and Levente Vekassy in K1M junior event. The only non-Hungarian winner of the day was Mathilde Troncin (FRA) in women’s C1 junior race.

The K1W Junior podium

The first event of the 2017 ECA Canoe Marathon European Championships in Portugal’s oldest village Ponte de Lima was the women’s K1 junior race. In the end it was one and two for Hungary with Dorina Fekete winning an European Champion title in her first ever competition abroad.

“It was very hard. This was my first competition abroad. And I am really happy because it is a really beautiful place,” said Dorina Fekete after her success.

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Silver medal went to another Hungarian athlete Viktoria Nagy, 2016 K1W junior European Champion, who was less than four seconds behind her team mate in the finish. Rita Fernandes (POR) took bronze medal to celebrate at her home venue.

French paddler Mathilde Troncin crossed the finish line in women’s C1 junior race more than two and a half minutes faster than her opponents to win a gold medal. Polish canoeist Maja Szajdek picked up silver and Spanish representative Andrea Vazquez bronze medal.

“The race was really hard. I felt really bad at the first portage. I do not know exactly why, it is possible that I was too fast and it was really intense,” said the winner.

Noemi Horvath (HUN) succeeded her compatriot Vanda Kiszli on the throne as the best in women’s K1 U23 event. Kiszli was last year both European and World Champion in women’s U23 event. She will compete this year too, but in senior category. Noemi Horvath won her European Champion title with a slight advantage. Zsofia Czellai – Voros was only 7.06 seconds behind and third placed Alexandra Lane (GBR) 7.83 seconds behind.

In men’s C1 junior race we also saw Hungarian paddlers on the podium positions one and two. It took one hour, 35 minutes, 51 seconds and 3 hundredths of a second for Sebestyen Simon to finish the 19 kilometres long race. He was 19.87 seconds faster than his closest rival and team mate Daniel Fejes, while Duarte Silva (POR) picked up second bronze medal of the day for the host nation.

K1M Juniors

The last event of the day proved to be the most exciting and intense until the very last metres of the race. In men’s K1 junior race Levente Vekassy (HUN) pulled out the win after Charles Smith (GBR) paddled most of the race in front and just lost some power for a strong finish. Vekassy could celebrate gold and Smith finished with a silver medal placed around his neck after producing only 0.55 seconds slower time than Hungarian. Ronan Foley (IRL) was third.

“To be honest I did not expect anything. I think I finished ninth last year in Pontevedra. I hoped for the best and it turned out really well. I am really happy. I was confident the whole time. I knew I have potential to finish in the top. In the end I was very tired, but it was in my head that I need to win this race,” said Vekassy.

On Friday we will see K2W junior, C1M U23, K2M junior, C2M junior and K1M U23 events.

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