The third day of the 2016 ECA Canoe Marathon European Championships in Pontevedra will be a day to remember. Renata Csay and Jose Ramalho managed to defend their European Champion titles, Antonio Campos won a gold medal for host nation and Emilio Merchan made a marriage proposal from the winner’s podium.
Men’s C1 race has been one of the more exciting ones we have seen this week if not the most exciting of all. Antonio Campos (ESP) and Marton Kover (HUN) fought for the gold medal until the very last metres of the 26.200 metres long course in Pontevedra. At the end local favourite Tono Campos as they call him here found strength to pull out a win in front of a home crowd. Marton Kover who was a defending champion had to settle with a silver medal this time. Nuno Barros of Portugal finished third.
“It was a very tactical race from the beginning, because I was in the lead with two Hungarians and we were having a team race. When I managed to drop one of them in the first portage, the other did not want to release and I had to take the chances on my own, only when the group reached the third the collaboration commenced. It was a tough race, windy. Winning at home is a plus, I’m very happy. I had the advantage of competing here at home and have the fans on my side, which always pushes you and gives you more strength. I want to dedicate this win to my daughter, who is here encouraging me, and to all who came here to cheer for me in Pontevedra to the last breath, which was what helped me beat the Hungarian,” said Campos.
Renata Csay and Vanda Kiszli produced a double win for Hungary. Renata Csay, a legend of this sport, who has over 30 medals (in K1 and K2 events) from European and World Championships, had a secure win in women’s kayak event. Her younger compatriot Vanda Kiszli – reigning U23 European Champion – was 39 seconds slower in second place and Anna Kožiškova of Czech Republic finished third.
39-year old Hungarian athlete was happy with her success, “I trusted myself to have a good race, but in marathon you cannot be sure to win again and again and again, because the distance is too long and everything can happen. I had the same strategy for the last three years – to paddle very fast in first and second lap and work together with another Hungarian girl. And it worked.”
Portuguese kayaker Jose Ramalho like Csay defended his European Champion title from last year’s Championships. He was again accompanied on the podium by Spaniard Emilio Merchan who won a medal also last year, and by Hungarian Adrian Boros.
Jose Ramalho had a strong support from loud Portuguese fans that helped him win another race, “It was a hard race. Three of us were in the front. We were working really well as a team and at the end I was stronger, but it could be either me, Merchan or Boros who could win. I was feeling really good and at the end I took another gold. After the last portage I thought I could do it in the end, so I rested a little bit in the turning point and then it was a sprint which was really good and I think fun to watch for the spectators.”
The medal presentation ended with a surprising marriage proposal made by Merchan, who wore a T-shirt with proposal underneath his official ceremony clothes. She said “yes”.
Women’s canoe event has not been an official one, because not enough countries entered the race. Winners were given medals, but there were no flags or national anthem. It was Cathrin Duerr (GER) who won with big advantage of six minutes, Pauline Martin (FRA) was second and Raquel Rodriguez (ESP) third.
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