Hungary snatched gold from returning Olympic champions Tina Dietze and Franziska Weber of Germany by a breathtakingly slim margin on Tuesday in the women’s K-2 500-metre sprint.
Danuta Kozak and Gabriella Szabo won in 1:43.687 as Germany nipped at their heels, claiming silver less than a 10th of a second behind.
Poland took bronze, as they did at London 2012.
Germany’s Weber described their run as a “perfect race,” but said the Hungarian women simply bested them in the contest.
“It was a very tough race, but we’re happy with silver,” Weber said. “We couldn’t have done better but today the luck was on the Hungarian side.”
Hungary’s Szabo reacted with disbelief to their victory on another day of scorching heat and blinding sun in Rio.
“It was very, very hard for me,” said Szabo, now a three-time Olympic medallist who claimed gold with teammate Kozak in the women’s K-4 at the London Games.
“I still can’t believe it.”
She and Kozak, now a four-time Olympic medallist, held hands and wiped away tears as they stood atop the podium and heard their country’s national anthem play.
Kozak will return tomorrow to compete in the women’s K-1 500m heat and both will join team mates Tamara Csipes and Krisztina Fazekas-Zur in the K-4 heat Friday.
The women’s K-1 200-metre event provided yet another tense finish with New Zealand’s Lisa Carrington retaining the title she won in London in 39.864 seconds, less than half a second ahead of Poland’s Marta Walczykiewicz.
Inna Osipenko-Rodomska of Azerbaijan took bronze.
Carrington said the short distance made it an extraordinarily tough race.
“It is a really tight race,” said Carrington. “Things can change a lot in those last few metres.”
“From start to finish, every stroke counts.”