Slovakian twins Peter and Pavol HOCHSCHORNER are on course for a historic fourth gold medal in Men's C1, while Women’s K1 Maialen CHOURRAUT (ESP) looked strong in her quest to win Spain's first Olympic medal in Canoe Slalom at the Lee Valley White Water Centre.
Gauthier KLAUSS and Matthieu PECHE (FRA) secured first place with a brilliant first run in a time of 96.98 seconds, beating the triple Olympic champions Pavol and Peter HOCHSCHORNER (SVK) by 0.54 seconds. The World No.1 duo have gone unbeaten at the last three finals at World Championships; they qualified for Thursday’s semifinal in second place.
The atmosphere, the surroundings and the sport itself are all motivational. We have a very good feeling from the British public.
Asked what it was like racing together for so many years he continued, "We have never raced with anyone else, so we have built up our own communication. Most of the time we are just synchronised."
Minghai HU and Junrong SHU (CHN) gave solid performances in both of their runs, placing them third in 99.05; they carry with them the hope for China's first Olympic medal in Canoe Slalom.
Great Britain’s Tim BAILLIE and Etienne STOTT ranked 6th in the world finished fourth with 100.44. Teammates David FLORENCE and Richard HOUNSLOW (GBR) had a poor first run, but improved in the second run to qualify in seventh place. Asked what he thought of the course Stott said:
"It certainly helps to know the river, but at the end of the day it comes down to doing those runs. You can see a top-class field like this; anyone can get something if they want it.
"It's a really difficult course and we didn't have all the information we would have liked, but it's like anything in life, it's an adventure."
Richard HOUNSLOW said of his second run, “That run there (second run) we paddled completely inside ourselves. The first run was a mistake, spinning it."
The 2012 European champions Jaroslav VOLF and Ondrej STEPANEK (CZE), competing in their fourth Olympic Games, achieved eighth place 104.00 whereas the Czech duo of Vavrinec HRADILEK and JEZEK Stanislav, both competing in individual events, were content with their 106.91 in the first run, so did not start a second run.
On competing for the first time in Men’s C2 at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Jezek said, "Before my race, if I have one day free I paddle anyway, so I thought OK, why not?"
With two World Cup victories this year and sitting comfortably in 2nd place in the 2012 ICF Ranking, Maialen CHOURRAUT (ESP) claimed the best score of the day in 98.75, but it was Lizzie NEAVE (GBR) who received the most rapturous of applauses from the home crowd when she bettered her first run to claim second place overall, just 0.17 behind the Spaniard. Maria Clara GIAI PRON (ITA) had an impressive clean first run in 99.66, coming in third place.
Following her family legacy, first-time Olympian and junior World Champion Jessica FOX (AUS) recovered from a 50-second penalty in her first run to take fourth place in her second run in a time 100.33.
The storied career of Stepanka HILGERTOVA (CZE) continues. HILGERTOVA won her first gold medal in Atlanta 1996 when she beat Jessica FOX's mother Myriam FOX-JERUSALMI (FRA) into third place. Still going strong, the 44 year old finished fifth in 100.75.
HILGERTOVA said of her sixth Olympic Games:
For me the Olympic Games are really special; the noisy crowd, these championships have a special atmosphere. Every race is different, which is enough to give me motivation in learning new techniques and new moves.
"Experience gained from previous Olympic Games is not so important. It's the result that counts and I have qualified. The most important thing is to have a clear mind when you are racing. That's the most important thing in our sport. A lot of the competitors are physically strong but what's in their mind is more important."
Jasmin SCHONRNBERG (GER), Natalia PACIERPNIK (POL), Emilie FER (FRA) all progress into Thursday’s semifinal.
For all results visit (allow 5-10 seconds load time): http://www.sportscene.tv/whitewater/canoe-slalom/result-archive/2012-london-olympic-games