“EXPLOSIVE” was the word off commentators as they attempted to grasp the speed and strength of paddlers competing in the 200m distance for the first time at an Olympic Games. Since the beginning of the competition there had been very few surprise but today saw a few casualties as some big name medal contenders failed to make the cut to compete in tomorrow’s finals.
Men's K1 200m
Canada’s Mark de JONG was the first surprise of the day, well known in the Canoe Sprint circuit, his time of 35.595 seconds announced him as a medal contender in tomorrow’s final.
The Canadian went head to head with Saul CRAVIOTTO (ESP) for most of the race with the former claiming victory clear off the finish line. The 2012 European Champion Marko NOVAKOVIC (SRB) qualified in third and remains on target along with Evgeny SALAKHOV (RUS) in fourth.
In a tight finish, Great Britain’s biggest hope for a medal in Canoe Sprint Ed McKEEVER (GBR), took first place in the second semifinal in 35.619 seconds. Maxime BEAUMONT (FRA), silver medallist at the last European Championship, finished a close second behind McKEEVER. Miklos DUDAS, the Hungarian hope in the event, took third place, while the 2009 World Champion Ronald RAUHE (GER) was fourth.
In another surprise, the 2011 World Championship Piotr SIEMIONOWSKI (POL), a pre-race favourite, failed to qualify to the final after finishing in sixth place in the semifinal. SIEMIONOWSKI had only participated in one World Cup this season having suffered an injury in the pre-season.
Men's C1 200m
There is no room for mistakes in the 200m as the 2011 World Champion and 2012 European Champion Valentin DEMYANENKO (AZE) discovered today, the 200m strongman finished last in his heat after a bad start and failed to qualify for the semifinal.
Jevgenij SHUKLIN (LTU) won the first semifinal and qualified alongside Mathieu GOUBEL (FRA) for the final. Ivan SHTYL (RUS), the 2010 World Champion and runner-up in 2011, claimed victory in the second semifinal ahead of Alfonso BENAVIDES LOPEZ (ESP). Both of them are favourites to medal in tomorrow’s final.
Asked what he thought of the failure of favourite Valentin DEMYANENKO (AZE) to qualify from the heats, SHUKLIN said, "I don't know what happened to him but I am very sad he is not in the final because he is a very strong sportsman."
Yuri CHEBAN (UKR) had a comfortable win over Dzianis HARAZHA (BLR). Both qualified for the final and have medal hopes. Naoya SAKAMOTO (JPN) was the last boat into the final with the third best time of all the semifinals.
Women's K1 200m
The 2011 World Champion Lisa CARRINGTON (NZL), won the first semifinal, ahead of Teresa PORTELA RIVAS (ESP), who was bronze medallist at this year’s European championships. Natasa DOUCHEV-JANICS (HUN) was first in the third semifinal despite the challenge from Marta WALCZYKIEWICZ (POL), two-time World Championship silver medallist in 2009 and 2011.
"It is very good that I won, but I still have some spare for the final," said DOUCHEV-JANICS. "I wouldn't say that this was not a 'full race', but now I'll go back to paddle, and practice the few strokes that I have to. If I win the race tomorrow, then I'll be satisfied."
Natalia LOBOVA (RUS) and Jess WALKER (GBR) secured a place in the last round comfortably in the slowest of the semifinals. After finishing second in the last semifinal, Teresa PORTELA RIVAS (ESP) secured a place in the final with the fourth best time.
Men's K2 200m
Favourites to win tomorrow’s final, Yury POSTRIGAY/Alexander DYACHENKO (RUS) cruised ahead of Liam HEATH/Jon SCHOFIELD (GBR), the duo that have accumulated four European titles between 2008 and 2012. Asked whether the Russians are a target for the final HEATH said, “The Russians are definitely a target. On race day we're all potential winners. Everyone has good days and bad days. (We're) really focused on getting every stroke spot on."
Argentina in third and Canada in fourth also secured a place in the final, where as the 2009 World Champions and 2011 bronze medallists Raman PIATRUSHENKA/Vadzim MAKHNEU (BLR) claimed first place in the second semifinal in a tight finish ahead of Ronald RAUHE/Jonas EMS (GER), silver medallists from the 2012 European championships.
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