Gold Day for GB Canoeing in C2 – France win second gold in K1W

This evening the pictures should do the talking

David, Richard, Tim, Etienne, Peter & Pavol (photo courtesy of Sportscene)

Two British C2 crews have beaten the formidable favourites the Hochschorner’s. At the time when the Hochschorner’s won their last Olympic gold, Great Britain did not qualify a C2 crew for Beijing. Olympic Gold in canoe slalom has been a dream. A GB World Championship or Olympic gold medal in C2 has been a vision. Dreams can come true. Congratulations Tim, Etienne, David & Richard for delivering gold and silver for TeamGB, GBCanoeing and the sport of Canoe Slalom and canoeing in general. Phenominal achievement. London2012 at Lee Valley has left a spectacular legacy.

Tim & Etienne with gold and Richard and David with Olympic silver in C2 (photo courtesy of AE Photos http://www.aephotos.co.uk)

Here are links to the C2 finals and K1W finals.

Penalties played a significant part in both competitions today and in the ladies saw four World Champions fail to make the podium (Hilgertova, Schornberg, Dukatova & Kuhnle). Huge congratulations to Emilie Fer who secured France’s second Olympic canoe slalom gold medal at Lee Valley. 18 year old Jessica Fox from Australia took an inspiring silver medal and Spain’s Maialen Chorraut took bronze.

Jessica Fox Australia, Emilie Fer France & Maialen Chourraut (photo courtesy of Sportscene)

Tomorrow a round up of what this means to the Sport of Canoe Slalom in the UK and a tribute to the 800 people who made Lee Valley voted as the best Olympic venue, stunning TV and delivered Great Britain’s first Olympic gold medal

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Tears of joy as TeamGB go Gold & Silver in C2 canoe slalom

I am in tears….. Lee Valley has erupted as TeamGB’s Olympic canoe slalom team has delivered Gold and Silver. The impact of this achievement to canoeing and canoe slalom in the UK cannot be understated. It is Great Britain’s first ever gold medal in canoe slalom and it’s first ever Olympic medal in C2. The triple Olympic champions the Hochschorner’s had to settle for a bronze after they have utterly dominated C2 for more than 10 years.

Congratulations to Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott on gold in a fastest C2 clear run of 106.41. They were the first boat down in the final and had to wait for the remaining 5 boats down before they knew if their 106.41 seconds was quick enough. As the final progressed they stayed top and after the Hochschorner’s posted 108.28 with a two second penalty the British spectators erupted knowing it was now certain gold for TeamGB. The last boat down GB’s David Florence and Richard Hounslow although up on both split times could only cross the line to take Olympic silver.

Congratulations to the whole team. The coaches Nick Smith and Mark Delaney, themselves both Olympians who joined the paddlers in the water to celebrate.

Buy a newspaper on August 3rd. It will be a collector’s item as a piece of Olympic and Team GB history was made today at Lee Valley.

Trials and tribulations in K1W semi-finals

Excitement at Lee Valley in the K1W semi-finals with ups, down and with plenty of penalties. Natalia Pacierpnik from Poland is the winner of the semi-final with a time of 107.79 with a two second penalty. None of the ladies really nailed the course and so the Gold medalist will need to pull out something exceptional. Four World Champions make it through to the K1W finals: Chourraut; Dukatova; Kuhnle and Schornberg. Junior World Champion, Jessica Fox from Australia and double Olympic Champion, Stepanka Hilgertova from Czech Republic are also through to the final later Thursday afternoon. There is everything to play for.

Further disappointment for Great Britain with the usually smooth and clean Lizzie Neave picking up 6 seconds of penalties and failing to qualify among the ten boats for the final.

Remaining qualifiers for final are: Emilie Fer from France, Marta Kharitonova from Russia and Hannah Craig from Ireland.

New heights for Great Britain canoe slalom C2

Great Britain’s C2 pair of David Florence and Richard Hounslow powered their way down in a strong 108.93 seconds with no penalties to win the semi-final in C2. Only 6 boats qualify for Thursday’s final in an hour and Great Britain for the first time ever has two C2 boats in an Olympic final. New heights. Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott qualified for Great Britain in sixth place. David and Richard will be the last off in the final.

As expected the three time Olympic champions qualified comfortably in second with a time off 109.04 seconds with a 2 second penalty. It was easily the fastest actual run time of 107.04 plus a 2 second penalty for hitting gate 5 on the top section of this Olympic Lee Valley Whitewater centre course. The Hochschorner’s pulled out the stops with a direct move on gate 18. Heat winners Klauss and Peche from France executed a similar move to qualify third.

With two TeamGB paddlers in the final of 6 boats it will be noisy and tense in this 12,000 sweater stadium.

And the Italian’s Went Wild!

Canoe Slalom Olympic Day 4 Review

Italy’s Daniele Molmenti Olympic Gold (phot courtesy of http://www.aephotos.co.uk)

The Italian’s among the 12,000 spectators, never known for being especially quiet, went absolutely wild before World No. 1 Slovenia’s Peter Kauzer had reached the final gates. Reigning World Champion Kauzer had won the semi-final with a 2 second penalty on gate 1 and then incurred a 2 second penalty on gate 3 in his final run, however, Kauzer’s challenges were not complete, on hitting gate 16 and then 22, the Italian’s began loudly celebrating realising that their Daniele Molmenti’s leading time of 93.43 was beyond the reach of Peter Kauzer. Daniele Molmenti, 27, himself on crossing the finish line on his final run knew he had pulled out the run of his life.  He punched the sky celebrating his Ultimate Run. He then had an agonizing wait for Poland’s Mateusz Polaczyk and then Peter Kauzer to complete their respective runs. The key to Molmenti’s astonishingly quick time may be the perfectly executed spin which he nailed twice in the gateline of gate 10, following the cross from the red and white upstream of gate 9. Molmenti is arguably the physically strongest paddler in canoe slalom; Olympic Gold now tops his already sparkling collection of World Champion Gold (2010), World Cup Gold (2010) and European Championship Golds (2009, 2011 & 2012). Many paddlers crossed high finding themselves up a foot above gate 10 where they span and wasted 1-3 seconds before they were clear of the poles to move on to the remaining gates. Michal Martikan will be the only paddler to have attempted and successfully pulled off gate 10 forwards, meaning without a spin to negotiate it.

Absolute delight for Daniele Molmenti (photo courtesy of Sportscene)

Vavrinec Hradilek, 25 from the Czech Republic had been the third down in the final posting a time of 94.78 clear, which made it the time for all other paddlers to beat to secure a medal. With the exception of Kauzer’s semi-final run of 96.02 seconds which had included a two second penalty all the medallists posted times faster than the semi-final runs on the same set of gates. In the end only Daniele Molmenti could go faster and clean to take a second Italian Olympic Gold medal in K1M. The first had been his Italian coach, Pierpaolo Ferrazzi in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

Germany picked up its second medal in two days with a bronze for Hannes Aigner, 23. Despite his early spin above gate 10, he was super tight on both the red and white upstreams of gates 13 and 16. He finished with 94.92 seconds clear 1.49 seconds down on Molmenti and again like Sideris Tasiadis in the C1 yesterday he will be another German paddler to watch in Rio in 2016 if his form and race experience continue.

Again it was not Great Britain’s day of Gold as Richard Hounslow failed to reach the final in his first Olympics.

Day 5 K1W and C2 Medals Day Preview

Thursday is final day of the 5 day canoe slalom Olympic competition where we have the semi-finals and finals of the C1 – Canadian single class and K1W – women’s single kayak class. They are on a different course than their heat on Monday but the same course as the previous semi-final and finals. The 15 remaining K1W paddlers and remaining 8 C2 boats start at two minute thirty second intervals for a single run semi-final. In the semi-finals they go in reverse order of their finish in Monday’s heat. In the K1W class only 10 qualify for the final and in C2 only 6.

Looking back to the C2 heats Gauthier Klauss & Matthieu Peche’s first run was the quickest, although the legendary Hochschorner brothers looked very comfortable with two calm, controlled and consistent runs to place them 2nd in the C2. The Chinese crew of Minghai Hu and Junrong Shu improved upon an already impressive first run. Both Great Britain C2 crews of Tim Baillie & Etienne Stott and David Florence & Richard Hounslow qualified for the semi-finals. David Florence and Richard Hounslow having not advanced in their single classes combine for the C2 where they are bronze medalists from the World Championships in 2010 and winners of the first 2012 World Cup race.

Watch out for the following C2s, Jaroslav Volf and Ondrej Stepanek from the Czech Republic who were Olympic bronze medalists in Athens and silver medalists in Beijing; Luka Bozic and Saso Taljat from Slovenia who were bronze medalists at the World Championships in 2009 and a final world for Peter and Pavol Hochschorner from Bratislava in Slovakia who have already become legendary within C2. They are the only athletes to have won four consecutive World Championship titles. They have won the World Cup series 10 times since 1999 and the European Championships 6 times. If they were to win gold at London2012 they would make history again as the only athletes to win four successive gold medals at the Olympic Games.

Looking back to the K1W heats, only three ladies posted times, with penalties under 100 seconds: Maialen Chourraut; Lizzie Neave and Maria Clara Giai Pron. Jessica Fox’s second run was outstanding with a 4th place finish in the heat from her second run ahead of double Olympic Champion, Hilgertova. Stepanka Hilgertova from the Czech Republic did what she needed to gain qualification in 5th place for her sixth consecutive Olympic Games. Lizzie Neave from Great Britain did two solid clear run performances, showing her home comfort with the course to finish second, with one of the fastest runs of the day. Maialen Chourraut, 2011 World Championship bronze medallist from Spain set by far the fastest run of the K1W including a 2 second penalty. Other potential favourites to watch remain, three recent World Champions, Austria’s Corinna Kuhnle, Germany’s Jasmin Schornberg and Slovakia’s Jana Dukatova.

Thursday Schedule:

  • Semi-final of the C2 starting at 1.30pm until 2pm. There will be 10 boats in the semi-final going in reverse order of their finish in the heat from Monday. The winner of the heat is last off. The semi-final is one run only.
  • Semi-final of the K1W starting at 2.12pm until 2.57pm. There will be 15 K1W boats in the semi-final going in reverse order of their finish in the heat from Monday.
  • Final run of C2 as decider for the Olympic medals starting at 3.18pm until 3.36pm. There will only be 6 C2 boats remaining for the final. Can Great Britain win Olympic gold or will Peter & Pavol Hochschorners land a historic 4th consecutive Olympic title?
  • Final run of the K1W as decider for the Olympic medals starting at 3.57pm until 4.26pm. There will only be 10 K1W boats remaining for the final.

After two days of finals, the Gold’s appear to be going to those nations who have previously won previous Olympics, suggesting strong potential for Slovakia, Czech Republic and Germany in K1W and Slovakia and French in C2 (The USA C2 boat did not qualify for the semi-final). The spectators appear to be getting louder each day and on Thursday there will be two London2012 Olympic Gold medals for the taking. If you can’t be there tune in for spectacular TV coverage. The 5 days of Olympic canoe slalom competition concludes with the C2 and K1W medal ceremony after the field of play is called clear. Then we all go home, some happy, some sad and prepare for Rio in 2016! Come back here Thursday night for the final medal standings for the K1W and C2.

Wenlock at Lee Valley with the Fire Service (photo courtesy of John Gregory)

Estanguet – Martikan 3:2 on Olympic Golds

Canoe Slalom Olympic Day 3 Review

In the World of Olympic C1 canoe slalom, Tony Estanguet from France now has 3 Olympic Golds to his nemesis Slovakia’s Michal Martikan’s two. They are both class acts. This time around they were divided by Germany’s new rising C1 star, Sideris Tasiadis. As is so always true in this sport it can all come down to penalties. All the medallist had clear runs.

Olympic Canoe Slalom C1 Champion Tony Estanguet, France celebrating his third Olympic title (photo courtesy of http://www.aephotos.co.uk)
Olympic C1 silver medallist Sideris Tasiadis from Germany (photo courtesy of Sportscene)

New Olympic silver medalist, Sideris Tasiadis will be a key paddler to watch in the future. He was delighted with his strong semi-final run that placed him in the lead going into the final. He was then last man down and with a comparable run to his first slotted in between Estanguet and Martikan to take his first Olympic medal. The 22-year-old was previously the Junior World Champion in 2009 and this year won the European Championships on his home course at Augsburg. Germany has long had a strong history in C1 with a bronze in Athens from Stefan Pfannmoller plus multiple medals at Worlds, World Cup and European Championships since 1991.

The largely British 12,000 spectators, whipped up by the live race commentary went wild when David Florence came down for his semi-final run. David was paddling well until gate 18 when the front of his C1 hit the left hand pole of the tough downstream (green and white) gate positioned in the eddy. With this touch and 2 second penalty added to his time he was unable to make it into the top 8 for the final. David Florence will be back in action on Thursday in the C2 class with his pair Richard Hounslow.

Michal Martikan hit gate 1 on his semi-final run and was then the only C1 paddler to take the 9-10-11 gate sequence direct without a spin. He made it through to the final and posted the then fastest final clear run time of 98.31 seconds again direct on the same gate sequence with Tony Estanguet next down the course. Bronze at London2012 still represents Michal’s fifth Olympic medal and he still looks exceptionally strong and controlled.

Tony Estanguet delivered controlled clear runs in both the semi-final and then the final. After posting the fastest time of 97.06 seconds in the final he then had to sit for two more paddlers, to complete their own runs to see if he would hang on to the lead and which colour medal he would take home. In the end no-one could better his time and it was a 3rd Olympic Gold. He is also a three time World Champion, twice World Cup champion and three times European Champion. The heavens opened at Lee Valley just in time for the medal ceremony, although the French and medallists didn’t care and were already celebrating noisily.

Neither Estanguet, 34 nor Martikan, 31, appear likely to retire and so the World Championship next year in 2013, which take place on the Prague course will again be a fiercely contested battle.

Day 4 K1M Medals Day Preview

Wednesday is day 4 of the Olympic canoe slalom competition we have the semi-finals and finals of the K1M – men’s single kayak class. They are on a different course than their heat on Sunday but the same course as the C1 semi-final and finals on Tuesday. The 15 remaining K1M paddlers start at two minute thirty second intervals for a single run semi-final, with only 10 qualifying for the final. In the semi-finals they go in reverse order of their finish in Sunday’s heat, with another German, Hannes Aigner off last having won the heat with his lightening quick second run. In K1M Germany has won three of the five K1M Olympic titles since 1992. However, there any many very strong and experienced K1M in Wednesday’s semi-final, including two World Champions: Italy’s Daniele Molmenti and reigning World Champion Slovenia’s Peter Kauzer. These two paddlers have shown consistent form since the last Olympics and are both eager to capture an Olympic medal to add to their World Championship, World Cup and European Championship gold medals. In addition, there are several previous Olympian’s Togo’s Benjamin Boukpeti won bronze in Beijing is the only Olympic medalist in the K1M; Ireland’s Eoin Rheinisch was 4th in Beijing and Austria’s Helmet Oblinger was 7th in Beijing as well as 4th in Sydney. Vavrinec Hradilek was the 2010 World Championship silver medalist and had two tidy clear runs in the heat. Another favourite from the heat is Samuel Hernanz from Spain, who similarly finished clear. Great Britain’s hopes are on Richard Hounslow, who recovered from an unspectacular first run in the heat but secured 11th in the heat.

K1M hopes for an Olympic K1M Gold rest on Richard Hounslow in Wednesday’s semi-final and final (photo courtesy of Michael Barnett)

Again, it will be tense competition right down to the very last run of the final. Who will be on the podium? Hold on to your seat and scream at the TV or in the stands at Lee Valley.

Come back Wednesday night for the final medal standings for the K1M and a preview of the C2 and K1W semi-final and finals which take place at Lee Valley on Thursday.

Comments @gregiej on Twitter

British disappointment at Lee Valley in C1 semi-finals

Disappointment here at Lee Valley this afternoon as Great Britain’s and World No.1 David Florence fails to make it through to the finals. It was a composed start for Florence and on track until the tricky left green and white downstream in the eddy at gate 18 caused the bow of David’s C1 to lift and clatter the left hand pole of gate 18. There was incredible tension and deafening support for Florence as he came down. He finished with 106.16 some 7 seconds down.

The three fastest paddlers all had clear runs proving as always that it is about being fast and clean that counts. Double Olympian, Michal Martikan from Slovakia uncharacteristically struck gate 1 incurring a 2 second penalty. However, he then pulled off a sensational forward direct move between the exit of gate 9 and gate 11. He finished joint fourth to qualify for the final. Martikan’s arch rival Tony Estanguet from France also made the final coming 3rd with a comfortable clear run.

2009 Junior World Champion from Germany, Sideris Tasiadis, just 22, produced an impeccable clear run of 98.94 seconds to take a commanding lead. He will be last off in this afternoon’s final.