After going through the preliminaries undefeated, Australian paddler Ken Wallace fell just short in his first final at the Canoe Sprint World Championships in Duisburg, Germany, on Saturday.

Wallace found himself at the back of the field after just 250 metres of the K1 1000m race.

But a stunned Duisburg crowd watched in disbelief as the Beijing K1 500m gold medallist powered through the field in the final 500 metres, before falling agonisingly short to German Max Hoff.

"That was really stinging that last 250 metres," said Wallace.

"I am stoked to get through it, I had a really slow first 500 with that head wind really getting the better of me."

Wallace was left to rue an unusually slow start which had him six seconds off the pace with half the race gone.

"Geez it is a long way to catch up, but I am lucky enough to have that turn of speed and it is a matter of when I use it.

"In this case maybe 40 metres too late but then again I might not have gotten a place at all so I am pretty happy to be here in a great start to the weekend."

Minutes later the Australian pair of Murray Stewart and Jacob Clear paddled a more controlled race before finishing fifth in the K2 1000m.

All three paddlers will get another chance for gold on Sunday with Wallace in the 500 metre final and Stewart and Clear joining Tate and David Smith in the final of the K4 1000m, the event in which they won Olympic gold last year.