It was a historic day at the Lee Valley White Water Center, where Great Britain's Tim BAILLIE and Etienne STOTT, David FLORENCE and Richard HOUNSLOW claimed Men’s C2 Olympic gold and silver respectively, and Emilie FER became the first Frenchwoman to win Canoe Slalom gold.
Tim BAILLIE and Etienne STOTT (GBR), ranked 6th in the world could not have had a better run. The duo were the first boat to run the course and were clean and aggressive from the start, setting an unmatched time of 106.41 seconds for the remaining competitors. Their win makes it the first time in history that a Host Country has won a gold medal in Canoe Slalom.
"It's weird, it doesn't seem real. It's a complete dream.” said STOTT. We did feel the pressure being in the final, but we just focused on our process and got on with it.
Tim BAILLIE who had a series of injuries leading up to London 2012, and missed out on qualification for Beijing 2008 said, "We've had a rough time, but to be here, I just can't believe it. It's hard to believe."
Their teammates, David FLORENCE and Richard HOUNSLOW (GBR) had set the fastest time in the semifinal so were the last down the course, and completed it 0.36 seconds slower than the gold medallists. Commenting on their medals, HOUNSLOW said:
"Sitting on the start line, we knew Britain had a gold medal already. We are a team. We attacked it hard and the difference between first and second is the sprint to the finish where we lost some time."
Hochschorner’s fall short of Olympic history
Twins Peter and Pavol HOCHSCHORNER (SVK), who were aiming for their fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal, had the pace to win the event but a two second penalty on gate 16 set them back into third place, dashing the dream and their chance to make history. Commenting on their third place finish Pavol HOCHSCHORNER said: "We had a few really big mistakes. It was not a run for a gold medal. I think it's four years we have dominated. It couldn't last forever."
Asked whether they will continue paddling towards the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games Peter HOCHSCHORNER replied: "I would be very happy to qualify for Rio. We would like to be in Rio."
Gauthier KLAUSS and Matthieu PECHE (FRA) were brilliant in the earlier rounds, but a two-second penalty on the lower part of the course left them in fourth place, distraught, inconsolable and without a place on the podium.
It has been a disappointing competition for Slovenia, with major losses by Peter KAUZER (Men's K1) yesterday and Benjamin SAVSEK (Men's C1) the previous day. Today could have been better for the country and for their No.2 ranked duo of Luka BOZIC and Saso TALJAT (SLO). The two are known for their fluidity and explosiveness on the water, and they delivered just that in the preliminary rounds, however, a shaky run in the semifinal left them well out of a place for the final.
The Women’s K1 final was equally exhilarating and unpredictable. The double World Champion Corinna KUHNLE (AUT) failed to make the podium after acquiring an early two second penalty on gate 5. Slovakia’s Jana DUKATOVA ranked No.1 is also known for her fluidity and speed on the water but a conservative run left her free of penalties but with a time well off the pace of the medalists.
Emilie Fer becomes first French woman to win Canoe Slalom Olympic gold
Emillie FER (FRA) does not have as impressive a CV as the paddlers she outperformed to win the accolade of Women’s K1 Olympic champion. Today the Frenchwoman, whose best result this year has been a silver medal at the La Seu d’Urgell World Cup in June and best ever result a silver medal at the 2009 World Championships, outdid the rest of the field, putting together a clean and fast run that resulted in her becoming the first Frenchwoman to win an Olympic gold medal for her country in Canoe Slalom. FER said of her win: "I have some difficulty realizing what has happened. I took some risks because I had nothing to lose and I knew I needed to go fast. I'm delighted for France and for myself."
Jessica FOX (AUS) is officially Slalom’s sweetheart. At 18yrs old she is arguably one of the most successful Canoe Slalom paddlers of her generation, showing a consistency beyond her years. A two time junior World Champion, Youth Olympic Games Champion, medallist at many World Cup events, there is little that the youngster hasn’t achieved. "My mum (Myriam Fox (FRA), won bronze in Atlanta and now here I am 20 years later, winning silver, it's an amazing thing to share.
"I'm only 18 and I've had such a great season so far and to cap it off with a silver medal at the Olympics is just a dream come true. My goal was to make the final so at the start I was like, just give it everything. I put down quite a good run but there were a couple of mistakes, but all in all it was a fast time. Then there was just the wait at the finish, I was so nervous. No matter what the result to perform like that at an Olympic final is something I was proud of."
Chourraut (ESP) wins historic medal for Spain
Winning the bronze medal was Maialen CHOURRAUT (ESP) who has had by far the best season of her career, winning two of three World Cups this season. Winning the bronze medal makes her the first Spaniard to medal at a Canoe Slalom event at the Olympic Games. Having placed 16th at Beijing 2008 CHOURRAUT said: “This is the medal that I needed. This is for Spain.
You have to work very, very hard, right from the start. We (the women's competition) are very strong now."
The Canoe Slalom competition ends today with France leading the medals table with two gold medals, won by Tony ESTANGUET (Men’s C1) and Emilie FER (Women’s K1). Italy sits second on the table with a medal from Daniele Molmenti (Men’s K1) and Germany in third place with a silver and bronze medal in the Men’s C1 and Men’s K1 respectively.
The Canoeing competition will continue next week at Eton Dorney where the Canoe Sprint paddlers take to the course with the hopes of winning Olympic glory.
For all results visit (allow 5-10 seconds load time): http://www.sportscene.tv/whitewater/canoe-slalom/result-archive/2012-london-olympic-games