Kayaker Osterman wins World Cup event in Račice

Racice – Slovenian kayaker Anja Osterman won Sunday’s flatwater 200-metre sprint World Cup event in Račice, Czech Republic, after finishing second in the 500-metre event yesterday, the first race of the World Cup season. Špela Ponomarenko Janić finishing third today. Dominika Putto from Poland was second.

“In October, when I decided for individual events my biggest fan, my father, had doubts. He was sceptical and said to myself I will prove him wrong. On Saturday, he admitted that these events are something else after all. But it’s important that I’ve proven to myself too that I can do it,” said Osterman, who previously competed in doubles competition with Špela Ponomarenko Janić, with whom she won the European title and silver medal at the World Championship in the 200m event.

“Of course I didn’t believe I’d start the season with the first and second places, so the joy is that much bigger,” she added.

Commenting on today’s event, she said it had been less stressful than yesterday. “At 500 metres you have 1.50 minutes of pain, but here it’s easier as by the time the pain really starts you’re almost in the finish line.”

She said she was particularly glad she could share the podium with Ponomarenko Janić, with whom she parted ways after last year’s disappointing performance at the Tokyo Olympics, where they capsized just before the finish line.

“It’s like old times, when we stood on the podium together,” she said.

Ponomarenko Janić said she had not expected a medal. “I’d need a bit more practice, so I didn’t count on anything more than the finals,” she said, adding that she got more and more confident with each event, so she managed this excellent result. “The boat ran well … I’m very happy.”

Slovenia’s success at the World Cup was rounded off with kayker Jošt Zakrajšek’s bronze at a 5-kilometre event. “I was behind at first, but I remained calm. Everything was opening up until the first turn, I was making progress without energy consumption, and the rest of the race was surprisingly easy,” he said.

He also thanked to Osterman and Ponomarenko Janić, who he said had been his inspiration for a while.