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Canadian paddlers feed off local crowd for medals at world championships

Sophia Jensen, of Canada, reacts after winning silver in the C1 women’s 500m during the ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Championships in Dartmouth, N.S. on Sunday, August 7, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese.
Click to play video: 'Dartmouth businesses celebrate economic benefits of Canoe ’22 events' Dartmouth businesses celebrate economic benefits of Canoe ’22 events
Dartmouth businesses celebrate economic benefits of Canoe ’22 events – Aug 8, 2022

Canada’s rising stars in canoe racing powered to gold, silver and bronze medals in the world championships as a crowd roared its approval alongside Lake Banook in Dartmouth, N.S., on Sunday.

Katie Vincent and Connor Fitzpatrick started slowly and picked up the pace as they drove their canoe to a victory in the 500-metre distance to become world champions in the event.

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Their win came about 90 minutes after Sophia Jensen, a 20-year-old from Chelsea, Que., raced to silver, finishing less than a second behind world champion Liudmyla Luzan of Ukraine in the 500 metres.

The paddler was exuberant with the result, saying the crowd’s cheers kept her aware she was vying for a medal and lifted her adrenaline in “a crazy fight to the end.”

Read more: Canoe ’22 expected to draw tens of thousands to downtown Dartmouth

The Halifax duo of 26-year-old Craig Spence and 24-year-old Brett Himmelman also held on for a bronze medal for Canada in a gruelling, 1,000-metre canoe final in intense mid-day heat.

An exhausted Spence had to sit on the wharf with ice on his neck after race, but said winning a medal on his home lake before friends and family was “a dream come true.”

The strong results came after Vincent, a 26-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., relinquished her title as reigning world champion in the 200-metre women’s sprint, placing fifth in race where less than a second separated the top athletes.

Read more: Canada’s Vincent races into C1 200 final at sprint canoe championships

On Saturday, two-time Olympian Andreanne Langlois and Toshka Besharah-Hrebacka showed their new partnership in the women’s kayak was paying dividends with their bronze in the K-2 200-metre sprint.

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Besharah-Hreback is just 19 years old, and is in her first seniors competition, while Langlois is 29 and a veteran on the world stage.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 7, 2022.

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