Nautical sports in Romania are making a comeback on the stages of big international competitions. Rowing held pride of place in 2021, with the Olympic gold won by Ancuța Bodnar and Simona Radiș in double sculls. The year 2022 seems to be the year of canoeists and kayakers, if we take into account the two medals, one gold and one silver, won by Cătălin Chirilă at the World Championships in Halifax, Canada.
The gold medal was won on Sunday, in the men's canoe single 1000 metre, the first Romanian victory in this event, at the World Championships, after 36 years. The last Romanian 1000 meters world champion was Aurel Macarencu, in 1986. Before him the legendary Ivan Patzaichin, won gold twice, in 1973 and 1977, taking the path opened by Simion Ismailciuc, with the world title won in 1963. Now, at Halifax, Chirilă finished the race more than a second and a half earlier than the Brazilian Isaquias Queiroz dos Santos, the Olympic champion of the event.
His race was tactically well-prepared , after coming in fourth in 250m and also in 500m, then in the second part of the race he pushed on and took the lead at 750m. Thus, the Romanian athlete got his revenge after the defeat on Saturday, in the 500 meter event, when dos Santos won the gold, and he climbed to the second step of the podium. In the run up to the Olympic Games, Cătălin is somewhat at an advantage, considering that, in 2024, in Paris, he will only compete on 1000 meters, a distance at which he is, as of Sunday, the best in the world .
It should be added that Romania had not won a world title in an Olympic kayak or canoe event for many years. Moreover, two years ago, at the World Championships in Copenhagen, no Romanian athlete or team made it to the finals. Even in 2019, in Szeged, Hungary, Romania did not win any medals, the best ranking being achieved by Victor Mihalachi and Cătălin Chirilă, 5th place in the final of the canoe double 1000 m event, which also brought them the qualification for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The last Romanian medal at the World Championships was in 2017, when, in Račice, in the Czech Republic, Victor Mihalachi and Leonid Carp won silver in the canoe double 500-meter event.
Cătălin Chirilă is registered at the Steaua Bucharest Army Sports Club. He was born on May 11, 1998, in Tulcea. He achieved his first great performance as a senior at the European Games in Minsk, in 2019, where, in the 1000 meter event, he won gold togetehr with Victor Mihalachi. In the same formula, last year, the Romanian canoe double crew won the bronze medals at the European Championships in Poznan. Chirilă then focused on the single canoe events, and the results were not long in coming. (MI)