Sunday, September 26th 2021
Canoe gold like at Olympia
Ahrtal heroine Funk also unbeatable at the World Cup
Her home route was completely destroyed by the floods – and so Ricarda Funk dedicated her Olympic triumph to her hard-hit home in the Ahr Valley. At the World Cup, the 29-year-old dominates again. And after tears of happiness is now looking forward to a well-deserved break.
Ricarda Funk longed for relaxation after the culmination of her emotional season. “It’s been a really long year,” groaned the slalom canoeist after her next triumphant ride in the white water: “Now I’m definitely ready for a vacation. I’ll be going straight from Bratislava.” Funk had definitely earned the break. The first gold for the German Olympic team in Tokyo, now the World Cup success in the Slovak capital – Funk wrote its own fairy tale in 2021. The kayak driver was deeply affected by the flood disaster in her home Ahrtal in mid-July. But the 29-year-old turned the thought of suffering into motivation, wanted to give people “a few rays of sunshine” in their most difficult time.
That succeeded again with flying colors. In the whitewater of Bratislava she won despite a pole contact with a full 2.51 seconds ahead of her teammate Elena Apel and was crowned world champion for the first time in the single. “It’s crazy, I was in such a state of flux in my race and then I saw the time at the finish and I was just happy,” said Funk with tears in his eyes.
At that moment, too, she was safely back in her home with her thoughts. Funk was born in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, her parents still live in Bad Breisig, a small spa town directly on the Rhine, and they help with the clean-up. The canoe route in Sinzig, where she learned to paddle as a child, was completely destroyed by the floods.
Her emotional messages from Japan to her troubled homeland are unforgettable. But in terms of sport, she managed the season of her life in this difficult time, wrote “history” with the double gold, as national coach Thomas Apel put it. After missing the qualification for the 2016 Olympics, that was also a very personal satisfaction. “It’s unbelievable that I’ve come back like this,” said Funk.
After the silver medal in the kayak, her team colleague Apel added gold in the Canadier and thus celebrated her greatest career success. “I just wanted to enjoy it here. I think that was my key to success,” said the national coach’s daughter. Former world champion Franz Anton took bronze in the men’s canoe race.