After a day of heats and semifinals at Eton Dorney, the German duo of Franziska WEBER/Tina DIETZE look the most capable of denying Katalin KOVACS/Natasa DOUCHEV-JANICS (HUN) their third consecutive gold medal in the Women’s K2 500m.
Men's K4 1000m
The Slovakians, silver medallists at Beijing 2008, won the first Men’s K4 1000m heats and the Hungarians, double Olympic champions at both Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, prevailed in the second heat. Both crews qualified directly for the final.
With only six places left in the final, Australia, the 2011 World Championship silver medalists, took the lead in the semifinal with a very strong start, holding on to it until the end. Germany kept a steady pace throughout the race and made a move with only 200m to go, coming through in second, ahead of the Czech Republic. The Czechs have impressed this year with two solid World Cup wins.
Speaking for his teammates, Dave Smith said of the Australian tactics and the deafening cheers from the crowd: "We wanted to get out there and put the race to the others, to ask the question and see if they had an answer. Fortunately no-one had. We plan to go out again hard in the final. We have kept ourselves under the radar. We moved out of the athletes' village and that was a deliberate plan to keep to ourselves. We listen to the crowd and we enjoy it. Keep it coming. We're not racing against the English, so we think they're cheering for us."
The Russians had a very fast start but failed to live with the strong Aussie pace. However, they still qualified for the final in fourth place ahead of the Romanians in fifth. The European Champions Denmark struggled to find the best rhythm and were the last boat to qualify, in sixth place and were almost beaten by Serbia on the finish line.
Men's C2 1000m
The 2012 Poznan and Duisburg World Cup winners, Peter KRETSCHMER/Kurt KUSCHELA (GER), took the first heat while the 2011 World Championship silver medallists Sergiy BEZUGLIY/Maksim PROKOPENKO (AZE) won the second. Both crews qualified directly into the final.
Beijing 2008 champions Andrei BAHDANOVICH/Aliaksandr BAHDANOVICH (BLR) took the lead from the start in the first semifinal and held it until the 800m mark, when the Russians Alexey KOROVASHKOV/Ilya PEVUKHIN sprinted through to win. The 2012 European Champions Liviu DUMITRESCU-LAZAR/Victor MIHALACHI (ROU) finished third and also qualified for the final.
"I wish we would've done better in the semifinal," said DUMITRESCU-LAZAR. "I don't know what my coach is thinking, but we did everything we could."
On their chances in the final and their red bandannas with white palm trees on them he said, "We will fight to win a medal. It's our lucky talisman. In 2010 we won the world championships wearing these bandannas. Have we washed them since? Yes."
The Chinese double HUANG Maoxing/LI Qiang did not want any surprises, so they took the second semifinal hard from the start to claim the victory and qualify ahead of Jaroslav RADON/Filip DVORAK (CZE) and Serguey TORRES/Jose Carlos BUNES (CUB) in third.
Women's K1 500m
With only one athlete to be left out of the semifinals, most of the competitors considered the heats as a chance to test the waters and their opponents. Bridgitte HARTLEY (RSA) was the first to qualify to the final in a very tight first semifinal, with the Beijing 2008 Olympic champion Inna OSYPENKO-RADOMSKA (UKR) taking second place.
In the second semifinal, Danuta KOZAK (HUN) took over the race with 200m to go and held the lead in front of Henriette HANSEN (DEN) and Sofia PALDANIUS (SWE), both battling for the second spot. HANSEN triumphed.
Josefa IDEM (ITA), the Sydney 2000 Olympic champion who is competing in her eighth Olympic Games, won the last of the semifinals, leaving Briton Rachel CAWTHORN in second place. The 2012 European Champion Katrin WAGNER-AUGUSTIN (GER), who won a bronze medal at Beijing 2008, failed to qualify for the final after finishing fourth. On where her motivation comes from, even after all these years:
"It's the effort that you have to put in if you want to succeed. I'm very lucky, because it's four Olympic Games that I got a medal. Many people do the same work that I do and they don't even go to the Olympics. My motivation comes also from the fact that I was so lucky and I was so good in all these years."
Anne RIKALA (FIN) and PALDANIUS (SWE) took the final two qualifying spots by being the fastest third-placed kayakers.
Women's K2 500m
With the first five boats going from the heats to the next round, all the strength was directed towards the semifinal runs. In the first of two semifinals, World Cup winners Franziska WEBER/Tina DIETZE (GER) claimed first place ahead of Katalin KOVACS/Natasa DOUCHEV-JANICS (HUN). The Hungarians are aiming for a third consecutive Olympic gold medal in this event.
Polish duo Beata MIKOLAJCZYK/Karolina NAJA came third and Lisa CARRINGTON/Erin TAYLOR (NZL) were fourth. Both pairs also qualify for the final. Yanan WU/Yu ZHOU (CHN) won the second semifinal ahead of world champions Yvonne SCHURING/Victoria SCHWARZ (AUT). Joana VASCONCELOS/Beatriz GOMES (POR) were third, leaving the fourth and last place in the final to the sisters Nikolina and Olivera MOLDOVAN (SRB).
On their plans for the final SCHURING said: "In the final we are going to aim for a strong start, sprint in the middle at around 250 metres. Austria has no medal yet so we really want to try to reach a medal. As world champions last year that gives us confidence and although we haven't been so strong this season we are looking forward now to what we can really do.
Tomorrow’s competition begins at 09h30 with Men’s K1 1000m final.
You can download all results here: http://www.sportscene.tv/flatwater/canoe-sprint/result-archive/2012-london-olympic-games1