History has been made today in canoe slalom, Great Britain have won their first Gold medal and their first medal in the C2 class. It also is the first time GB have won two medals in one class. It may have been day six in the Olympic programme but for canoe slalom it was ‘Super Thursday’ with five of the six British team members battling for medal glory the odds were always going to be good, but today was truly memorable and historic.
The mood in the GB Canoe Slalom camp was slightly uneasy as all medal hopes lay in the final day of competition.
In the C2 (canoe doubles) Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott ranked sixth in the world, qualified through to the finals in sixth place (110.78), demonstrating their experience by effectively recuperating from a slight glitch on the course.
In the final, the less talked about duo set off first, they were on absolutely on fire as they stormed down the course, working together like a dream they set the bar high for the rest of a field with a time of 106.41, the atmosphere at Lee Valley was electric. The pair, their long career cursed by disappointment and injury, put down a faultless run and whilst they knew it was a commanding time that set the marker; they had to wait for five other competitors to have their turn.
Sitting at the start line for their run and last to go, Richard Hounslow and David Florence (World and European medallists) knew their team mates had won a medal but the question was, could they make it two GB crews on the podium.
Their determination to make amends was clear, they were resolute to prove they could deliver on home water after they had struggled in their respective individual events earlier in the week. Any questions about whether the pair could make the finals were decisively answered when they put down the fastest semi final time of 108.93 and then put in an even faster glittering final performance with a time of 106.77.
Eitenne Stott comments on his gold medal,
“It's weird, it doesn't seem real. It's a complete dream. We did feel the pressure being in the final, but we just focussed on our process and got on with it."
Tim Baillie comments on injuries leading up to London 2012 and missing out on qualification for Beijing 2008,
"We've had a rough time, but to be here, I just can't believe it. It's hard to believe."
David Florence said,
"That was the most difficult start line I have ever been on and going off last. To win an Olympic medal is fantastic. We were really pleased with our run.”
Richard Hounslow said,
"Sitting on the start line, we knew Britain had a gold medal already. We attacked it hard and the difference between first and second is the sprint to the finish where we lost some time."
All four athletes were clearly ecstatic with their medal haul and at the end of the race jumped into the white water with coaches Mark Delaney and Nick Smith.
It was a truly unforgettable historic moment for canoe slalom and one that was all the more magical as it was shared with friends and family.
In third place were Slovakia’s triple Olympic Champions Pavol and Peter Hochschorner, who were clearly disappointed missing out of making history with a fourth consecutive gold.
In the Women’s K1 (kayak single) there was disappointment for GB’s Lizzie Neave who didn’t make the final, she had earlier in the week qualified through to the semi finals in the second fastest time, but today her plans unravelled as she took a series of penalties that were unrecoverable. Her time with six seconds of penalties was 117.30. It was a disappointing end for Lizzie as she had shown so much elegance, class and talent in the heats.
In the women’s K1 final, France’s Emilie Fer went on to win gold, Australia’s Jessica Fox silver and Spain’s Maialen Chourraut Bronze.
Olympic canoeing competition now moves from canoe slalom at Lee Valley White Water Centre and to Eton Dorney for canoe sprint action which starts on 6th August and runs through to 11th August (finals days are on 8, 9 and 11 August).
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1 GBR Tim Baillie & Etienne Stott 106.41
2 GBR Richard Hounslow & David Florence 106.77
3 SVK Pavol Hochschorner & Peter Hochschorner 108.28
1 FRA Emilie Fer 105.90
2 AUS Jessica Fox 106.51
3 SPA Maialen Chourraut 106.87
12 GBR Lizzie Neave 117.30
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