U.S. wins two medals at sprint worlds

On the first day of the 2011 ICF Sprint World Championships, the U.S. ParaCanoe athletes won two medals in Szeged, Hungary.

Robert Balk won the silver medal in men's V1 200m, crossing the finish line three-hundredths of a second behind the first place finisher.

Tami Hetke took the bronze in women's V1 200m.

The World Champsionships are a major Olympic qualifier for the disciplines that are slated for London in 2012.

Despite the youth on Team USA, many members fared well in their first World Championships.

Robert Finlayson placed fifth in the men's C1 1000m semifinal to advance to Friday's C final.

Cedric Bond and David Petrovics placed eighth in the men's K2 1000m and did not advance.

"Very tough day of racing today," Bond said in a statement released by USA Canoe/Kayak. "But an awesome first experience at the international level. The depth of field here is remarkable -- over 1000 athletes from 94 nations. I saw Olympic Gold Medalists fail to make A Finals.

"David Petrovics and I had four Olympic/World Champions in our heat and got washed out and finished last. Tomorrow, we have a much better heat, so hopefully we'll be able to have a much stronger performance. My respect and awe of this sport grows daily."

Luke Michael, Jake Michael, Morgan House and Pat Dolan will compete in the men's K4 1000m on Friday.

"They have worked extremely well since the World Cups and they are hoping to qualify four spots for the USA at next year's London Olympic Games," Sprint National Team coach Guy Wilding said.

"The years of training come down to one or two races, so it's game time," Michael said.