Katie Vincent wins 3 gold medals, falls shy of 200m repeat win at sprint canoe worlds

·3 min read
From left to right, Sophia Jensen, Sloan MacKenzie, Katie Vincent, and Julia Osende of Canada react after winning gold in the C4 women's 500 metres on Sunday at the ICF canoe sprint and paracanoe world championships in Dartmouth, N.S. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press - image credit)
From left to right, Sophia Jensen, Sloan MacKenzie, Katie Vincent, and Julia Osende of Canada react after winning gold in the C4 women's 500 metres on Sunday at the ICF canoe sprint and paracanoe world championships in Dartmouth, N.S. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press - image credit)

Three out of four ain't bad.

After Katie Vincent was unsuccessful in repeating as C1 women's 200-metre champion, she picked up the pace after a slow start with partner Connor Fitzpatrick to win a gold medal in the mixed 500 event on Sunday at the ICF canoe sprint and paracanoe world championships in Dartmouth, N.S.

Then, the 26-year-old won another gold alongside Sloan MacKenzie, Julia Osende and Sophia Jensen in comeback fashion in the C4 500 race. Earlier in the day, Vincent was fifth in the 200 one year after winning her first world sprint title in Copenhagen.

The native of Mississauga, Ont., clocked 50.63 seconds after ranking No. 1 in Thursday's heats in 46.50.

Vincent completed her day with a third gold, covering the C1 5,000 in 27:50.88 to defeat Germany's Annika Loske (27:55.52) and Maria Corbera of Spain (28:02.52).

On Saturday, Vincent and MacKenzie of Cheema Aquatic Club in Waverley, N.S., placed sixth in the C2 women 500 in 2:07.40, more than six seconds behind (2:01.26) the winning Chinese duo of Sun Mengya and Xu Shixiao.

In May, Vincent opened her World Cup season tying for a silver medal in the women's C1 200-metre A final in Racice, Czech Republic and followed with silver in Poznan, Poland.

'Crazy fight to the end'

Meanwhile, the 20-year-old Jensen reached the finish line in two minutes 23.21 seconds in the women's C1 500, trailing only Ukrainian winner Liudmyla Luzan (2:22.34) by 87-100ths of a second. Jensen qualified for Sunday's final by winning her heat in 2:12.82 on Thursday.

WATCH | Jensen misses gold medal by less than 1 second:

She paddles a distinctive green boat, with red, green and yellow leaves on its side, which Jensen said evokes the forest alongside the Gatineau River where the Cascades Club is located.

She was exuberant with the result in an event included at the next Olympics, 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."

Double medallist at 2017 junior worlds

"I knew I could be up there, but I didn't know I'd be top two. It feels very good," Jensen said, standing at the wharf of the Mi'kmaq Aquatic Club, waving at local fans.

Jensen, originally from Edmonton and now living in Chelsea, Que., collected silver in C1 500 and C1 200 at junior worlds in 2017.

In another race Sunday, Bret Himmelman of Hammonds Plains, N.S., and Craig Spence of Waverley finished third in a grueling 1,000 canoe final in intense midday heat.

WATCH | Himmelman, Spence realize 'dream' in podium finish:

They reached the finish line in 4:06.13, trailing the victorious Sebastian Brendel and Tim Hecker of Germany by 11.22 seconds (3:54.91). China's Ji Bowen and Liu Hao were second (3:55.34).

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."

"To get a medal at home, what an amazing feeling," said Spence, still gasping to recover his breath.

Himmelman said to hear the cheers of Canadian fans en route to winning a world championship medal at home is likely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Since the Tokyo Olympics last summer, the kayak and canoe teams have been rebuilding, and bringing new athletes into senior level races, said Ian Mortimer, who has been the team's chief technical officer the past year.

"It's quite a young team with a lot of promise for the future," he said, shortly after Jensen won her silver medal.

"The goal for Sophia is the top. She's a top-level athlete," he said. "Everything is a stepping stone towards the ultimate goal at the Paris Olympics (in 2024)."