Scotland’s double Olympic silver medallist made up for his disappointment in the singles at London 2012 by stunning his rivals to take gold – the first Briton to win the title.
The Aberdeen-born paddler clocked 100.53 seconds but picked up a two-second penalty for touching a gate and had to watch anxiously to see whether any of his rivals could beat him.
Eighth-fastest going into the final, another seven slalomists had to go down the course after him but none could match his time. Slovakia’s Alexander Slafkovsky took silver in 103.36 seconds with Slovenian Benjamin Slavsek capturing bronze (105.79).
Florence has a chance to add another gold today in the canoe doubles with his English partner Richard Hounslow.
It capped the prefect end to a frustrating season for Florence and made up for some near misses over the summer.
“I went fairly early off in the final. Before me there had only been a couple of other guys down,” he said afterwards. “I crossed the line and knew I had to put in a really good time. I was just really pleased to put in a good run, that’s all I was trying to focus on. I had to sit and wait though I knew I was in with a very, very good chance of a medal, or a good chance of maybe even holding on for the win as I watched the next seven guys come down.
“In some ways, it was a nervous wait but in others I had done my bit and for the guys at the top it was probably a more of a nervous wait at the top, trying to beat that time.
“It’s incredible it went the way it did and I am very, very pleased to have come back to this off their last year’s disappointment at the London Games in C1. To be world champion is the ultimate. Unlike at the [Olympic] Games, in the world championships you have to beat the top three Slovaks, the top three French, the top three Germans. At the Games there is just one of each of those guys there. Within the sport, being world champion is absolutely massive.
“So it’s a fantastic achievement and because of those differences it’s really hard for me to compare it to the Olympics. We’ve never won C1 in the world championships before so it’s always nice to make a bit of history.
“To be able to say I’m now world champion is amazing.
“It’s an incredible end to the year. To have put in a lots of fast runs down this season and not quite got the results for them, then the World Cup final to be in second place, just missing out on gold, then to go one better here at the end of the season, it’s absolutely spot on.”