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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.