Danuta Kozak (Hungary) - Winner of the ‘Best Female Canoe Sprint 2016’ award in an Olympic year.
- Born: 1987, sport(s): canoe sprint (K1W, K2W, K4W), represents: Hungary
- 2016: Olympic Champion K1W 500m, K2w 500m, K4W 500m
- 2015: European Champion K1W 200m and 500m, K4W 500m; World Cups: gold K1W 500m and gold K4W 500m (Szeged)
Prior to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games Danuta Kozak was already one of the most-decorated canoe sprint athletes of all time with two gold medals from the London 2012 Olympic Games and a silver from the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, in addition to 14 world championship medals (11 gold). But with three races on her program in Rio, she was eager to upgrade her double gold from London, to a triple.
And she did.
Kozak etched her name in the history books forever where she became the first female canoe sprint athlete to win three gold medals at a single Olympic Games. A feat that has only been achieved by two men prior to her, Vladimir Parfenovic of the Soviet Republic in 1980 and Ian Ferguson of New Zealand in 1984.
She now moves to second in the all-time canoe sprint leaderboard (behind Birgit Fischer), and has become one of Hungary’s most decorated Olympians, having won five gold medals and a silver.
Danuta’s emphatic win in the K1 500 on day two of the canoe sprint program at the Lagoa Stadium made her the second athlete in history to claim consecutive titles after winning gold at the 2012 London Olympics as well.
On day four she teamed up with Gabriella Szabo in the K2 500 where they had a tough battle with the German crew before powering away in the closing stages. Two days later the two then joined with Tamara Csipes and Krisztina Fazekas-Zur for the K4 500 where they showed their class from the first stroke of the race.
As a result of her efforts she has been awarded the prestegious Hungarian Central Cross Star Medal.
Danuta Kozak’s powerful style and renowned finishes have seen her dominate canoe sprint over the last 10 years. At 29 years old she has had her best season yet, etching her name in the history books, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Her medal haul has undeniably earned her the title of the best female canoe sprint athlete at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.