Cuba’s Fernando Jorge & Serguey Torres Claim Surprise Gold in Canoeing at the Tokyo Games

2020 Tokyo GamesFernando Jorge and Serguey Torres have ended a 20+ year Olympic medal drought…

The 22-year-old Cuban canoeist and his 34-year-old compatriot/partner won a surprise gold medal in the men’s canoe double 1,000 meters at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Fernando Jorge & Serguey Torres

Jorge and Torres ended the race with a time of 3:24.995, just ahead of the Chinese team, who had a time of 3:25.198.

Germany, which had won the event at five of the last seven Olympic games, won the bronze with a score of 3:25.615.

Fernando Jorge & Serguey Torres

Sebastian Brendel had been in the German boat for gold medals in the 2012 London Games and 2016 Rio Games.

But the race developed into a battle between Cuba and China over the final 500 meters.

The Cuban duo had won silver at the world championships in 2019, but Cuba hadn’t medaled in this event at the Olympics since 2000.

Queiroz: First Brazilian to Win Three Medals in an Olympic Games

2016 Rio Games

Isaquias Queiroz ends his first Olympic appearance with a historic bang…

The 22-year-old Brazilian sprint canoeist partnered with Erlon de Souza to claim the silver in the Men’s Canoe Double 1000m competition with a time of a 3:44.81 at the 2016 Rio Games.

Isaquias Queiroz & Erlon de Souza

Germany’s Sebastian Brendel and Jan Vandrey, who trailed for most of the race, took the lead from Queiroz and  de Souza in the final seconds to win the gold with a time of 3:43.91.

With the roar of the crowd behind them, the Brazilian duo set sail and led for most of the race. A tight field trailed Queiroz and de Souza for most of the race, but in the end it was Germany who prevailed.

Queiroz, who already won silver and bronze at the 2016 Summer Olympics, added one more piece of hardware to his collection. He has now become the first Brazilian to win three medals in an Olympic Games.

Queiroz overcame a hard-fought childhood which included close brushes with death and a kidnapping attempt, and has become a fan favorite in his home country.

Queiroz Gives Brazil Its First-Ever Canoeing Medal at the 2016 Rio Games

2016 Rio Games

It’s a special first for Isaquias Queiroz

The 22-year-old Brazilian sprint canoeist has earned his country its first-ever Olympic medal in canoeing.

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But Queiroz didn’t just have to train hard to earn that medal at the 2016 Rio Games — he had to survive.

Queiroz, who narrowly lost to Germany’s Sebastian Brendel to win silver in the men’s single 1000-meter canoe race, escaped death three times before he turned 11. At age 3, a pot of boiling water fell on him scalding large sections of his body. Doctors told his mother to prepare for his death, according to Brazil’s O Globo newspaper, but she refused to believe the prognosis, and she was correct.

While Queiroz’s body healed, life still became tougher for him. At age 5, Queiroz, who grew up in poverty-stricken northeastern Brazil, was kidnapped. His father also died that year. Queiroz was eventually returned to his mother unharmed, but tragedy would strike again five years later.

At age 10, Queiroz fell out of a tree and onto a rock while trying to get a better look at a snake hanging from a branch. After being transferred to a larger town’s hospital, doctors found his kidney had nearly split in two. They eventually removed the kidney.

That last hardship stayed with Queiroz for life, not only in the form of a scar, but in the nickname “Sem Rim,” which means “Missing Kidney.”

While doctors warned Queiroz to stay away from sports, the resilient kid had other plans.

“I never thought if I would have a complicated life because of that,” Queiroz tells SB Nation on Monday. “As soon as I could, I came back and had a normal life.”

“Normal” is probably an understatement. With his win Tuesday, Queiroz is becoming a superstar in his homeland, and especially in his hometown of Ubaitaba, where he seized an opportunity at age 11 to get involved in canoeing thanks to a government-funded project.

“From his first contact with the water, I realized that he was good, that he had something special,” Queiroz’s childhood coach, Figueroa Conceicao, told the Associated Press this week.

Queiroz quickly rose through the ranks in the canoeing world. At age 17, he became a junior world champion. At age 19, he won his first world title. He’s since won two more.

Isaquias Queiroz

Now, at 22, he’s reached the pinnacle of his sport — the Olympics.

“My race was very good,” he said Tuesday (via O Globo). “I lost a little there at the end, but getting the silver medal at my first Olympics is very good.”

Queiroz’s Olympic quest isn’t over either. He’ll go for more medals — he’s still hoping for a gold — Wednesday when he competes for a spot in the men’s canoe single 200-meter sprint, and Friday, he’ll pair up with Brazil’s Erlon Silva for the men’s canoe double 1,000-meter race.

“I feel emotional to represent my country in Rio,” Queiroz told SB Nation. “It’s a dream come true for any athlete, especially for me since it’s my first Olympic Games with the chance of winning three medals in my home country.”

Cal’s Silver at the London Games Makes Him Spain’s All-Time Olympic Medal Leader

London Olympics 2012

David Cal Figueroa put the paddle to the medal at the 2012 Olympic Games to secure his place in the annals of Spanish sports history.

David Cal

The 29-year-old Spanish sprint canoer had to settle for a silver medal in the men’s 1000-meter canoe (C1) single sprint at the London Games, after losing the oh-so-exhilarating race by less than a second to Germany’s Sebastian Brendel.

The race on Dorney Lake was thrilling to the very end, with Brendel catching up to his Spanish rival after Cal raced out to an early lead.

David Cal

Brendel’s winning time of 3 minutes, 47.176 seconds was a mere 0.877 ticks ahead of Cal’s.

With his latest medal-earning performance, the three-time Olympian—the silver medalist at the 2008 Olympic Games and gold medal winner at 2004 Olympic Games in Athens—becomes the Spanish athlete with the most Olympic medals of all time, with a total of five medals.

David Cal

Mark Oldershaw of Canada took the bronze, finishing 1.326 seconds behind the winning pace. Meanwhile, Hungary’s Attila Vajda, the reigning Olympic champion and the early odds-on favorite in London, failed to medal.