Hungarian paddlers dominated the opening day of the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Canoe Marathon World Championships in Pietermaritzburg today, winning all four gold medals on offer.
In the opening race of the Championships at Natal Canoe Club, the junior women’s K1, the Hungarian duo of Zsóka Csikós and Dorina Fekete secured a one-two.
The duo set the tone for the day when they broke away on the first lap and were soon out of sight.
After working together to open a significant lead, Csikós proved too strong at the finish as she crossed the line in 1 hour 35min 45.39sec.
Fekete could not match her compatriot in the final sprint and took second in 1:35:45.95.
South Africa's Christie Mackenzie rounded out the podium in home water in 1:37:30.
The Hungarian success was followed up by an identical result for their compatriots Sára Anna Mihalik and Zsófia Czéllai-Vörös in the under-23 women’s K1 race.
Czéllai-Vörös and Mihalik came off the first portage with a lead and the duo began to work as a team to cement their advantage.
With around 500 metres remaining though, Mihalik powered away to clinch victory in 1:49:43.12.
Czéllai-Vörös was forced to settle for silver in 1:50:11.90 while Great Britain's Alexandra Lane took bronze in 1:52:15.92.
The third Hungarian one-two arrived in the junior men's C1 competition.
Sebestyén Simon and Balázs Adolf dominated from the start but, when Adolf increased the tempo with 200m to go, his compatriot had no answer.
Adolf took gold in 1:40:53.67 while Simon crossed the line in a distant second in 1:41:07.70.
Duarte Silva from Portugal claimed the bronze in 1:43:18.76.
In the final event of the day, the junior men's K1, yet another Hungarian one-two appeared to be on the cards when Ádám Varga and István Lukács set off at pace.
Varga was in dominant form and raced away on the third lap of six for a convincing win in 1:41:35.66.
Lukács, however, dropped back to form a three-man group with Briton Charlie Smith and South African Sifiso Masina to fight for the silver and bronze medals.
The Hungarian could not match their pace with Smith finishing with silver in 1:44:17.03 and Masina completing the podium in 1:44:20.89.
Junior competition will conclude tomorrow, with senior action set to provide the focus on the weekend.
The C1 and K1 races for both men and women will take place on Saturday (September 9), with the C2 and K2 races being held the following day.
It is the second time the Championships have been staged in South Africa, with Cape Town having held the event in 1998.