Pietermaritzburg - South African Hank McGregor claimed his second gold medal of the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships by
partnering Jasper Mocké to victory in the men's K2 race on Sunday at Camps
Drift in Pietermaritzburg.
Hungary emerged from the four days of competition as clearly the
top nation at the Championships with their two silver and two gold medals on
the final day's action taking their total for the competition to an incredible
20 medals (10 gold, eight silver and two bronze).
South Africa were second on the medal table with eight medals (2 gold, 3 silver
and 3 bronze) with Great Britain third on five (1, 1, 3).
For South Africa, McGregor added a second gold to the one he earned for winning
the K1 event on Saturday when he and Mocké added a fourth medal to their
personal tally of two golds from 2014 and 2016 and silver from 2015.
The local heroes produced a potent finish sprint to claim their victory, but
behind them, in a bizarre photo-finish for second, the Hungarian pair of Adrián
Boros and László Solti celebrated their second position before crossing the
That allowed South Africa's second boat of Andy Birkett and 18-year-old
schoolboy Jean van der Westhuyzen to finish just centimetres back in third.
The top three were almost identical to the 2016 finish order when McGregor and
Mocke beat Boros and Solti with Birkett and Louis Hattingh third.
This win is
also the third time the McGregor/Mocke and Boros/Solti combinations have shared
the top two positions with the Hungarians winning in 2015 and grabbing silver
There was nothing easy about the final event of the championships with a
massive group of boats jostling in a testosterone-laden bunch for the first lap
until things broke apart and there were finally seven boats left halfway
through the second lap as the paddlers headed for the first portage.
That became five when the Hungarians were dropped just before the first portage
and their hopes of a medal looked to be fading away as they slipped to more
than 30 seconds behind the lead group.
But, in an incredible show of power
paddling, the Hungarian duo hauled themselves back into contention on lap six.
From there it was a tight tactical battle until the final portage where, as
with the K1 race on Saturday, McGregor and Birkett led the race to the water
and then held the two lead positions through the top turn and into the final
sprint for glory.
As, as with Saturday, McGregor, this time with Mocké providing added power from
the back of the boat, was able to keep his boat in front to claim his tenth
World Championship gold medal.
But for Birkett there was no repeat of Saturday as he and the young Van der
Westhuyzen were no match for the potent power of the Boros and Solti and the
Hungarian pair always looked to be the silver medallists once the sprint
Luis Pérez and Miguel Llorens from Spain were fourth with Frenchmen Stéphane
Boulanger and Jérémy Candy fifth and the final boat from the lead group, the
Norwegian brothers Eivind and Jon Vold drifting over the line in sixth.
After ten victories and three K1 and K2 double golds in 2014, 2016 and this
year, it could be expected that McGregor would be a bit blasé about winning,
but he seemed somewhat overwhelmed after his victory.
"It hasn't quite sunk in yet to be honest," said the 2015 World Paddler of
the Year. "I was never going for anything like this and to even win one
world title is something special, but to win ten is incredible.
"To win it here in front of the home fans with Jasper was special, and it
rounded off a fantastic week for me with my family here.
"The South African public always knew that we were good but to watch to
happen first-hand will hopefully encourage people to get into paddling.
"I think that somewhere along the line someone has been inspired to pick
up a pair of paddles and give it a go.
"It's really hard racing with the K2's travelling at 22km per hour in
shallow water, but you can't get flustered and have to just roll with the
Earlier the young Hungarian crew of Vanda Kiszli and Sãra Anna Mihalik mixed
the perfect balance of power, guile, tactics and patience to lead a Hungarian
one-two and almost match McGregor when they both collected their second medals
at the championships.
Mihalik, who won the U23 women's K1 title on the opening day, and Kisli who on
Saturday finished second in the women's K1 race, looked to be out-powered in
the early exchanges with Britain's K1 women's winner Lani Belcher and her
partner Hayleigh-Jayne Mason.
The second Hungarian crew of Renáta Csay and Alexandra Bara, aiming to win
their fourth women's K2 title in a row, always looked to be scratching in the
lead group and the smart money was on the British crew leading home a Hungarian
The Danish and South African crews, who made up the lead group until
the final portage, were always struggling and there seemed little chance they
would muscle in on the medals.
However, on the final portage Kiszli and Mihalik showed that maybe their
slowish portages throughout were nothing more than a ploy, and for the first
time they put in ahead of their British rivals and had the advantage for the
final 1 000m paddle to the finish.
The move proved decisive as nobody from the front group was able to re-connect
and Kiszli and Mihalik were able to get home relatively easily with clear water
In the battle for the minor medals, Csay showed why she came into this
championships with no less than 28 world championship to her name.
2015 and 2016 championship winning crew came past Belcher and Mason fairly
easily to claim the silver and relegate the Brits to third.
The Danish duo of Emilie Rosenkilde and Henriette Engel Hansen were fourth on
the wave of the final medallists, with South African's Hayley Nixon and
Michelle Burn a distant fifth after they were left behind at the end of the
Hungary picked up their third medal in two races when Márton Kövér and Ádám
Dóczé outsprinted the Spanish duo of Ramon Ferro and Oscar Graña to claim the
men's C2 gold.
A trio of boats broke early, but just when it looked like a fascinating
three-way tussle, the second Spanish crew of Manuel Antonio Campos and José
Manuel Sánchez fell out while putting in after a portage and, despite a quick
empty and recovery, were never able to re-connect with the leaders and had to
settle for third.
Up front there was little to choose between the two lead boats until the final
sprint when the Hungarians unleashed an explosive kick that had the Spanish duo
down paddles with 75m remaining.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS - ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships Day Four:
1 Vanda Kiszli/Sãra Anna Mihalik (HUN) 1:56:31
2 Renáta Csay/Alexandra Bara (HUN) 1:56:44
3 Lani Belcher/Hayleigh-Jayne Mason (GBR) 1:56:45
4 Emilie Rosenkilde/Henriette Engel Hansen (DEN) 1:56:50
5 Hayley Nixon/Michelle Burn (RSA) 1:57:10
1 Márton Kövér/Ádám Dóczé (HUN) 1:59:59
2 Ramon Ferro/Oscar Graña (ESP) 2:00:14
3 Manuel Antonio Campos/José Manuel Sánchez (ESP) 2:01:47
4 Mateusz Borgiel/Patryk Gluza (POL) 2:03:39
5 Jakub Brezina/Jan Dlouhy (CZE) 2:05:56
1 Hank McGregor/Jasper Mocke (RSA) 2:00:11
2 Adrián Boros/László Solti (HUN) 2:00:13
3 Andrew Birkett/Jean van der Westhuyzen (RSA) 2:00:15
4 Luis Pérez/Miguel Llorens (ESP) 2:00:16
5 Stéphane Boulanger/Jérémy Candy (FRA) 2:00:20
Final Medal Table:
Hungary - 10 gold, 8 silver, 2 bronze
South Africa - 2 gold, 3 silver, 3 bronze
Great Britain - 1 gold,1 silver, 3 bronze
Argentina - 1 gold
Ukraine - 1 gold
Spain - 2 silver, 3 bronze
Portugal - 1
silver, 1 bronze
Poland - 1 bronze
Czech Republic -1 bronze
Ireland - 1 bronze