Baku, June 15, AZERTAC
The balance of power in international canoe sprint swung dramatically as the first five medals of the Baku 2015 European Games competition were decided at the Kur Sport and Rowing Centre in Mingachevir on Monday morning.
Germany claimed gold medals in the opening two events and secured five podium places in total, but traditional powerhouse Hungary reasserted its authority by winning the next two and collecting a bronze.
In the first medal race of the morning, Max HOFF (GER) squeezed home against Denmark's Baku 2015 ambassador Rene Holten POULSEN. The German's time of 3:28.205 was over seven seconds slower than in his heat on Sunday, when he clocked the fastest time in the world this year.
Compatriot Sebastian BRENDEL (GER) joined HOFF atop the podium in the next race as he raced home one second ahead of Martin FUKSA (CZE), with Hungary's Attila VAJDA in third.
"I executed my game plan and that worked," BRENDEL told the Games News Service. "The plan was to have a good start but to hold a little bit back in the middle and then finish hard at the end. And with that plan it appeared I was just a little bit quicker than the Hungarian and the Czech."
Germany would not have it all their own way on Monday morning, however.
Hungary struck back in the very next race through its women's kayak four, who pushed the German quartet into second place with Poland coming through for bronze.
"It was very wavy in the water. We sometimes have these problems but we still won," said Anna KARASZ (HUN) from the winning boat.
Hungary picked up a second gold when Zoltan KAMMERER and Tamas SZALAI stole a half-second advantage on German duo Max RENDSCHMIDT and Marcus GROSS in the men's kayak double (K2) 1,000m, with Belarus claiming the bronze.
Better was to come for Belarus in the final medal race of the morning, when the London 2012 Olympic silver medal-winning brothers Andrei and Aliaksandr BAHDANOVICH (BLR) won the men's canoe double (C2) 1,000m by four hundredths of a second to claim gold.
"This was a very tough victory and it's 10,000 times more important than all the other victories we've ever had, because there was a kind of a gap in our careers when we didn't win that much, mostly due to health problems," said Aliaksandr. "But now everything went OK again; we went straight into the final and we won."
The canoe sprint action at Baku 2015 resumes with heats and semifinals in the afternoon session.