SPRINT CANOE/KAYAK: Australia’s Ken Wallace and Lachlan Tame have booked their place in tomorrow’s final of the K2 1000m after a speedy semi-final win.
Wallace and Tame had finished second in their heat, forcing them to contest the semi-finals, however the semi-final race proved beneficial for the Australians who won in the second fastest heat or semi-final time of the day in 3mins 16secs.
Ferenc Szekszardi missed out on an A-Final spot in the C1 200m after not progressing from the heats. Jordan Wood and Daniel Bowker were sixth in their semi-final of the K2 200m and will contest the B-Final tomorrow, while Naomi Flood missed out on a place in the A-Final of the women’s K1 500m after finishing sixth in her semi-final.
Men’s K2 1000m
Ken Wallace and Lachlan Tame needed a first place finish in the men’s K2 1000m to book an automatic berth in Thursday’s A-Final. anything less and it was the semi-finals later in the morning.
The crew flew out of the start in their first race of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and were leading for the first three-quarters of their heat.
However, at the 750m mark, the Serbian duo of Marko Tomicevic and Milenko Zoric made their move over the Australians to paddle past them and take the only automatic A-Final spot. When the Serbians made their move, Australia reduced their paddle rate to easily coast into second position.
In their semi-final, Tame and Wallace required a top three finish to book an A-Final place and were up against crews from Kazakhstan, France, Hungary and Italy.
The duo, coached by Jimmy Owens, powered out from the start again and led the race from start to finish. While Italy and Hungary nipped at the heels of the Australians with 250m remaining, three-time Olympian Wallace and his Olympic debutant teammate Tame were not going to relinquish their lead and won by a boat length.
The Australians crossed the line in a time of 3mins 16secs, a time which proved to be the fastest of the two semi-finals, placing them in lane three for the A-Final.
The A-Final will be at 09.08 Local Time (22:08 AEST) on Thursday August 18.
The race will no doubt be a cracker, with Australia’s 2015 world championship silver medallists racing against the 2015 world champions, Germany, as well as the bronze medallists from the same event, Serbia.
Wallace admitted while it wasn’t the plan to race the heat and the semi, it had helped.
“Loccy gets to do three races at his first Olympics, at the time it was disappointing to have to race both, but we have trained for it,” said Wallace.
“I'm more confident after getting that first race done. The most nervous race at the Olympic Games are always the first one.
“You know you've been training well, you know you've been doing good times in training but then to put it into play on race day, it's probably the most nervous, but once that heat was out of the way I was a lot more relaxed.”
Wallace admitted Tame was a relaxed individual to race with.
“He's got a super cool head on him under pressure. I see him get a bit nervous sometimes but he only wants to do his very best, he is a genuine racer,” said Wallace.
Tame, while cool-headed, was excited about the prospect of tomorrow’s finals.
“Today I became an Olympian. Tomorrow I get the chance to become a champ with him [Ken Wallace],” said Tame.
Men’s C2 200m
Racing in his first Olympic Games, Ferenc Szekszardi took on some experienced paddlers from the world stage including Lithuania’s Henrikas Zustautas and Azerbaijan’s Valentin Demyanenko, who finished fifth and sixth respectively at the world championships in 2015.
The Australian paddler needed to either finish in the top five, or to have the sixth fastest qualification time, to make the semi-finals of the C2 200m.
However, it wasn’t to be for Szekszardi, who finished sixth in his heat in a time of 44.29 secs, some 4.54 seconds behind the heat winner.
With Szekszardi out of contention for the A or B finals, the Australian now turns his attention to the men’s C2 1000m, which he will race on Friday with Martin Marinov.
Men’s K2 200m
Making their Olympic debuts, Daniel Bowker and Jordan Wood were up today in the K2 200m. Wood, like Wallace, will double up and also race the K4 1000m later in the week, while Bowker will compete in only this kayak class at the Games.
With only the first place making the A-Final, and the rest having to contest the semi-finals, it was going to be a big ask of this young Australian pairing, who have only spent six weeks training together.
The heat was led from start to finish by Lithuania, meaning the remaining crews would fight it out in the semi-finals.
Wood and Bowker finished sixth overall, 2.49 seconds behind the winners, and were thus drawn into the semi-finals against Germany, Serbia, Great Britain, Brazil and Italy in what would be a hotly contested race.
In fast conditions the crews sped out from the line and in just over 30 seconds it was all over, with Great Britain taking the win in 31.89 seconds, while the Australians finished in sixth in a time of 34.84 seconds. The duo will now contest tomorrow’s B-Final, before Wood then takes on the K4 on Friday morning.
Women’s K1 500m
Competing at her second Olympic Games, Naomi Flood was drawn in the fourth heat of the women’s K1 500m.
On an extremely hot day on Lagoa de Rodrigo de Freitas, Azerbaijan’s Inna Osipenko-Rodomska led the heat from start to finish, with Flood sitting in fifth for the majority of the heat, before narrowly being pipped into sixth place but still qualifying for the semi-finals.
Drawn in lane one for her semi-final, Flood needed either a top-two finish or to be one of two athletes with the third best qualification time within the three semi-finals to make the A-Final.
Racing off against athletes from Turkey, Russia, China, Hungary, Denmark and Slovakia, it was going to be tough for the 30-year-old Flood in the outside lane.
Danuta Kozak from Hungary won the semi-final in a time 1min 54 secs, while Flood finished sixth in what will be her last Olympic Games.
“For me at the moment I’m exhausted; it’s my 16th year as a full-time athlete; the elbow is breaking down on me, there are a few issues with the body, it has kind have given me the awareness that (my) time is done,” said Flood.
“Coming off the back of London I wanted to go better, I wanted to go faster and have more of a presence.
“Rio is where I wanted to have that presence but I (only) beat a couple of people.”