Vanda Kiszli led a gold medal charge for Hungary ©ICF

Reigning K2 world champion Vanda Kiszli led a gold-medal charge for Hungary on the opening day of the International Canoe Federation Marathon World Championships in Shaoxing, China, today.

There were also triumphs for Denmark, Ukraine, Spain and France.

Kiszli will defend her marathon title this weekend, and today she won the new short race world title, securing one of three gold medals for Hungary.

Eszter Rendessy won the women's junior K1 and Benedek Horvath the men's junior C1.

France's Cyrille Carre made a successful return to canoe marathon with gold in the men's K1 short race.

Ukraine's Liudmyla Babak added a short race C1 title to her two long-distance marathon titles, and Spain's Diego Romero added a men's C1 short race to his C2 world title from 2018.

Kizli and Babak coped easily with the transition to the 3.6 kilometre short races.

"It was so quick, we started and then we were on the last lap," Kiszli said.

"I didn't know if I would be any good, because I knew the other girls were very fast.

"So I just focused on me and did my race.

"It was a good warm-up for me ahead of this weekend.

"I'm a little bit nervous because I am the world champion, so everyone wants to beat me."

South Africa's Hank McGregor has had to call off his quest for a sixth K1 ICF marathon title because he is suffering from shingles ©Getty Images
South Africa's Hank McGregor has had to call off his quest for a sixth K1 ICF marathon title because he is suffering from shingles ©Getty Images

Kizli won her K2 gold with Sarah Mihalik in Pietermaritzburg two years ago, and took silver in the K1.

Diego Romero and Manuel Campos finished first and second for Spain in the C1 men's short race final, respectively. 

Hungary's Eszter Rendessy was first and compatriot Zsoka Csikos second in the women's junior K1, while Benedek Horvath and Kristof Kollar continued the nation's domination, taking the top two spots in the men's junior C1.

But there was bad news for South Africa's Hank McGregor, who has cancelled his quest for a sixth K1 gold this weekend because of a virus.

The 41-year-old South African, who won the title five consecutive times before last year, when he moved over to the commentary box, but then felt impelled to return to competition and won K2 gold, has been diagnosed with shingles.

Team leader Graham Neate said the squad has been left "devastated".

"Hank's gutted, he really wanted to do it," Neate said.

"He's a really passionate person, very proud, and I really felt for him. 

"He came to me yesterday afternoon and said his body was in really bad shape, he was in a lot of pain, and he had medical advice so it would have been foolish to paddle."

McGregor's team mate Andy Birkett will seek to retain his K1 title on Saturday, and the team is hoping to rush Nick Notten from South Africa to China to team up with him for the men's K2.