Etienne Stott and Tim Baillie lead the exciting British one-two in the C2 two-man canoe slalom event at the London summer 2012 Olympics. This was a breathtaking race with Stott and Baillie winning the gold and the more well-known David Florence and Richard Hounslow taking the silver medal. After the race, all four medallists dived into the water to celebrate, delighted with the unexpected result.
Stott and Baillie had been the slowest of the six teams that qualified, and so this was the race of their lives. The course presented huge undulations and amazing twists and turns, and a 12,000 strong crowd were there to cheer them on through the waves. Third to race were the French pair Gauthier Klauss and Matthieu Peche who clipped a pole and received a time penalty, adding to the excitement, and the favourites to win, twins Pavol and Peter Hochschorner, finished 1.87 seconds slower than Stott and Baillie, getting a bronze medal for their efforts.
David Florence and Richard Hounslow had a chance to redeem themselves after failing to make the final in individual events and finished only 0.36sec slower than Stott and Baillie and were thrilled with the result. Stott and Baillie missed out on the Beijing Olympics, so their gold medals at London 2012 were a dream come true for them. Their medal win compensated for earlier disappointing results from Team GB, as British athletes struggled to reach the individual finals at the Lee Valley course.
In the sprint event, Great Britain did well again, with Ed McKeever achieving a fantastic gold medal in the 200m distance, and bronze medals going to Liam Heath and Jon Schofield. The Canoe Sprint 200m race made its Olympic debut at London 2012. The final round of the men’s canoe sprint K4 1000m started with ten countries, but was reduced to the quickest eight teams on the first day. These eight competed in the final run. The Australians recorded the fastest time and won the gold medal, with Hungary winning the silver. But it was a close call for Australia whose win was only separated from the German team who came in fourth by one second. Slovakia were the favourites for this event, but came in at sixth place, demonstrating how unpredictable and how interesting the sport of canoeing can be.
Ed McKeever claims that the British success at London 2012 can help the squad to become the best in the world. London 2012 saw Great Britain get their biggest ever canoeing Olympic medal haul, with both gold and silver in the slalom and gold and bronze in the sprint. McKeever argues that Team GB, if pushed forward could one day become the leading canoeing nation in the world.
The Slovakian Hochschorner brothers each have three gold medals to their names from three successive Olympic Games that were held in 2000, 2004 and 2008 and were clear favourites to win. In the Canoe Slalom, Slovakia has the most gold medals (seven) and France the most medals overall (fourteen). Other leaders in the sport include Germany and the Czech Republic.
Photo credit: Dave Hamster