Olympics Day 6
Day 6 200m Finals.
Following on from the semi finals yesterday it genuinely looked like we had chances today for the elusive medals.
First up was Ed McKeever, so reliable all year and though only 3rd fastest qualifier he never really looked at full stretch during the early rounds.
The others to watch on form from the semis were Craviotto and De Jonge. A strong headwind would be a game changer for some people but it was never going to affect the result for Ed. From the outset the red tip on his boat showed in front of the pack and he was never caught. A perfect race from a man who has consistently performed in a race where the smallest errors are heavily punished.
Craviotto placed 2nd with De Jonge 3rd. 4th place went to the Frenchman Beaumont, who has come to this event via marathon racing, K4 racing, and finally having been evicted from crewboats took on the 200m K1 as it was the only event open to him and is probably very pleased he did!
You have to feel for Ronnie Rauhe, he has been the king of this event for many years, very much off the boil last year until the World Champs where he came an impressive 3rd. He has never, since the age of 15, come away from a major championship without a medal but today was only able to come 8th on the windier side of the course. It seems the Olympic 200m came a few years too late for this legend of our sport. Life is tough!
I was not fortunate enough to be in Beijing when Tim won his gold and had no idea how emotional it was to watch someone you know win an Olympic Gold. Nervous before the start, hyper during the race and actually exhausted after it, I have never been so involved in someone else’s race than I was today. Belting out the National Anthem at the medal ceremony was a must and I can’t wait to meet Ed and shake his hand.
The C1 race was unlucky to be placed directly after the K1, it felt like a bit of an anti climax but that was a massive disservice to the athletes involved. There were really only 3 medal prospects in this race, Shtyl, Cheban and Shuklin really looked untouchable in the early rounds. Shtyl though got a rough draw on the right hand side of the course and had to work very hard for his bronze, finishing only about 0.2 behind Shuklin you have to feel the silver could have been his in a different lane. Gold though was only for one man, Yuri Cheban took this race comfortably.
Next up was the turn of the women, the stand out athlete in the preliminaries was Janic, beating Carrington in the heats and then overhauling the Pole, Walczykiewicz, after a bad start in the semi.
However it was not to be her regatta, already suffering a defeat in the K2 500 she could only manage 3rd place here. The winner was Carrington who, like Ed took the race from the start. 2nd went to Osypenko-Radomska to make it two silvers from two events for her. To be fair she was the beneficiary of a great lane and it was the Pole who got the short straw in the draw.
Jess Walker performed very well, especially on the first half of this race; it is the first time I have seen her truly mixing it with the big guns. In the end she faded to 7th place but that does not really do justice to her performance.
In the K2s there was realistically only going to be one winner. The Russians seem to have taken this event to the next level and are in a class of their own. The fight for the medals was going to be stressful though! Belarus, France , Germany and of course our guys were all in the running. The French had the best lane and the Germans had the misfortune of being drawn on the outside again and that was pretty much enough to end their realistic hopes.
It was our guys though who took this race on, leading the early part before the Russian express came through. The French were having a bad day and never really featured but Belarus made the most of the headwind and overhauled us in the closing stages to take silver. The bronze for Heath/Schofield felt almost as good as Ed’s Gold. It would have been tragic to have missed out, but with their best performance of the event our guys never looked like being the unlucky losers.
This regatta could not have ended on a higher note; I was till grinning when we got home and even cracked open a bottle of bubbly to celebrate the performances of the day. I watched endless reruns of the races and they never lost their appeal. This was the best days spectating at a canoeing event I have ever had and I have never been so pleased for anyone as I was for Ed. His attitude and commitment are fantastic and his reliability is second to none. He is a product of his home club, Bradford on Avon, his local coach Kevin Bowerbank, and has been refined and perfected by Alex Nikonorov who has done such a great job with this 200m team. No coach has come away with 2 medals from 2 different crews before so this was something special. It was a priviledge to be there to watch it!