European Championships 2004 - Poznan, Poland
by Ben Farrell

GB team survives the Storms and proves itself over the only true sprint disciplines.

The European Championships is always a fiercely competitive event, and this year was no different with the added bonus of Olympic places up for grabs. The weather was mixed, with one minute scorching sunshine and the next hail. The entries for all 200-meter events were down on previous years, probably due to the importance of the Olympic Events. None the less all the usual faces were racing.

Pete Almasi was the British entry for the Men’s K1 and having coped with the rough water he qualified straight to the final from his heat. In the Final Ronald Rauhe (GER) and Alvydas Duonela (LTU) were the pick of the bunch. The German getting it from the Lithuanian. Almasi had a strong finish to claim 5th.

In the Women’s event the British entry was Rachel Train, having won a Bronze Medal at the last European Championships she must have been hoping to improve the colour of her medal. But with two previous World Champions in the Final this was always going to be a tall order. Spaniard Teresa Portela won from the Pole, Hungarian and Rachel in 4th. Spain also won the Women’s K2 and K4 making it a clean sweep of 200 metre wins for Teresa Portela.

In the Men’s K2 former European champions Rauhe and Wieskoetter never really looked in form and only managed 4th and the Polish World Silver Medallists from last year could only manage 6th. But the current World Champions Lithuania showed they’ve still got it in their pocket winning by over half a second.

The Men’s K4 200 meters is always a classic event and it was Spain and Hungary who were battling it out for Gold. The Hungarians took it, Spain Second and Russia third. The British K4 of Farrell, Cox and the Darby-Dowman Brothers who almost took a swim due to a power wobble in the heat managed to qualify for the final by winning their semi and came 5th over all.