Slovenian teenager conquers Europe in men's canoe.BOBO

Slovenian teenager Žiga Lin Hočevar won the 2024 ECA Canoe Slalom European Championship title in men's canoe, while Germany's Andrea Herzog did the same in women's canoe.

The 2024 ECA I Feel Slovenia Canoe Slalom European Championships in Ljubljana - Tacen concluded with individual and team events in the women's and men's canoe categories. Sixteen-year-old Slovenian prodigy Žiga Lin Hočevar secured the European title in the men's canoe, while Germany's Andrea Herzog won her first European title in the women's canoe.

In the team events, the Czech Republic celebrated victory in the women's canoe event, while Slovenia took gold in the men's canoe team event.

The 2024 ECA I Feel Slovenia Canoe Slalom European Championships in Ljubljana - Tacen marked the 25th edition of the ECA Canoe Slalom European Championships, with both the host nation and the Czech Republic finishing the competition with a total of six medals each - three gold, two silver and one bronze.

Athletes from nine countries, including Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, Germany, France, Great Britain and Austria, stood on the podium, highlighting the diversity of talent in European canoeing.

On the final day of competition, Slovenian youngster Žiga Lin Hočevar emerged victorious. The 16-year-old, who finished fourth in Saturday's kayak final, put in an outstanding performance in Sunday's men's canoe final to claim the title of Senior European Champion. Žiga Lin had previously been crowned Junior World Canoe Champion in Krakow last year.

Žiga Lin's father, Simon Hočevar, who comes from a canoeing family in Ljubljana, won the men's canoe European Championship title in Augsburg in 1996, the first ECA Canoe Slalom European Championships.

Now, 28 years later, Žiga Lin has followed in his father's footsteps, tearfully stating, "It feels incredible, it's the biggest victory of my life. I never thought it would happen this year, I was just hoping to win a professional race one day. This year it happened. It's the best day of my life!

The promising Slovenian paddler triumphed in the men's canoe final, beating his more experienced teammates Luka Božič and Benjamin Savšek, who currently hold the top spots in the world rankings. Božič won the World Cup last year, while Benjamin Savšek is the reigning World and Olympic champion.

Luka Božič took silver, finishing 0.84 seconds behind Hočevar, while Savšek took bronze (+1.07).

In the women's canoe final, Germany's Andrea Herzog won her first European Senior title, finishing 3.80 seconds ahead of Gabriela Satkova of the Czech Republic and 6.52 seconds ahead of Marjorie Delassus of France.

Despite being a two-time World Champion, Herzog had previously failed to win a gold medal at the European Championships, with her collection consisting of two silvers and a bronze in the women's team canoe event at the 2016, 2017 and 2019 European Championships.

This achievement served as a bittersweet consolation for Herzog after missing out on the German Olympic team for the Paris 2024 Games.

"It's great. A few weeks ago I just missed the Olympic spot in my association, so I won't be at the Olympics this year and I was really, really sad. I thought this European Championships and the next World Cups would be good. Now it is a really, really good start. I know that I am good, it is a good feeling," said Andrea Herzog.

In the afternoon canoe team events, the Czech Republic (Tereza Kneblova, Gabriela Satkova, Martina Satkova) won the women's canoe event ahead of Slovenia (Eva Alina Hočevar, Lea Novak, Alja Kozorog) and Great Britain (Mallory Franklin, Kimberley Woods, Ellis Miller).

In the men's canoe team event, Slovenia confirmed its status as the front-runner. Savšek, Božič and Hočevar won ahead of the Czech Republic (Lukaš Rohan, Jiri Prskavec, Vaclav Chaloupka) and Slovakia (Matej Benuš, Michal Martikan, Marko Mirgorodsky).