Day Two in Singapore Finals Part I
What a day here in Singapore, with regular lightning and heavy rain storms in this tropical climate, the weather is on everybody's minds. Thankfully the gods were on Canoeing's side today as the sun shone and it stayed dry.
The crowd gathered at the early stages of the afternoon, filling up to brimming as the finals started. It must be said that wherever there is Canoe racing, the Hungarian Canoe fans will follow. They did the nation proud this afternoon. Seemingly delighted with the format and the fact that they could see each race unfold before them, the grandstand was LOUD; the atmosphere electric.
Also in the crowd this afternoon was IOC President, Mr Jaques Rogge. A keen sailor, he knew all about the head- and tailwinds that the athletes had to face and he enjoyed the competition. When asked what he thought about the new format he told the ICF, “...it's good. It's very exciting and different which is what we wanted.”
Races began with Hungary's formidable Farkasdi up against Kerry Segal of South Africa who put up a good fight against the athlete she said she was most looking out for. Podolskaya, the Russian, and a strong favourite could not negotiate both the turn and headwind at the same time and she capsized. The Spaniard, Maria Elena Monleon went through. Next up was Jieyi Huang from China against Aliaksandra Hryshyna of Belarus. Huang went through, as did Belgium's Hermien Peters who beat the Pole, Joanna Bruska.
In the semi-final, Huang met Monleon and beat her with a 7-second gap, moving the Chinese to the final. The young Belgian was up against the Hungarian powerhouse, she could not overcome her Hungarian counterpart but moved onto the bronze medal race where she met the Spaniard.
The finals proved just how exiting this format is. First up was the bronze medal race where Peters of Belgium managed to push through to the win. In the final, Farkasdi was cheered on by the raucous Hungarian crowd.
Farkasdi was unbeatable and beat her Chinese competitor by nearly 3 seconds. Speaking to the ICF after the race, Ramona said, “it's very good, the track was very good and the training here went well. About Canoe Slalom, we are just professionals in Canoe Sprint but we have practiced the Canoe Slalom as well, so I am confident.”
Huang was pleased with her silver medal but was expecting to take gold, “I feel good after that, the wind was to strong out there. I was hoping to win gold. Going to Canoe Slalom, “I haven't tried it before but am happy to challenge myself. I love the starting ramp, I like the feeling of dropping of that!”
Into the Men's C1 round 5, or quarter finals, the Cuban Osvaldo Sacerio Cardenas put in a very powerful finish, beating Radoslav Kutsev (AZE) to the line by 5 seconds. Brazil's Isaquias Quieroz, who posted the second fastest time yesterday, failed to get through to the semis as Mexico's Pedro Castaneda beat him by nearly 4 seconds. Visibly gutted, the Brazilian was out. The first of many photo finishes came as Moldova's Alexandru Tiganu lost out by half a second to Ukraine's Anatolii Melnyk. Just crossing the line, the Moldavan fell in to the water with all the exertion of his final finish. It was still not enough. In the last race of the quarters, drama struck Timofey Yemelynov (KAZ) as his boat filled with water and the boat capsized. Andrei Liferi of Romania went through to the semis.
Up against the strong Cuban, Liferi didn't really stand much of a chance, such is the Cuban's power in the sprint canoe. The second race however provided a nail-biting finish, which the crowd lapped up. Just one tenth of a second apart, Melnyk pipped Castaneda and went onto the final showdown with the Cuban.
Fighting for the bronze, Castaneda angered the Romanian, by beating him to the bronze medal spot. While in the final a not so close race saw Cardenas of Cuba move onto the gold medal spot. Melnyk of the Ukraine took silver. Talking after the race, the Cuban said, “it was hard as it was the first time we have raced this way, I just trained on the course here.” But what little experience he had, clearly did the trick!
Race one in the quarter finals of the Men's K1 saw another Hungarian powerhouse storm it round the figure of eight course, beating the Ukrainian Zelnychencko, but only by 2 seconds, perhaps not the kind of win we would expect but the Hungarian was perhaps saving the best for last. True to Canoe Sprint form, the young German showed who else was a contender for the medal in race two. Liebscher beat the Cuban, Mora by 5 seconds. Next was a Belarus/Poland showdown with the Belarusian winning while the Spanish, Inigo Garcia, pipped the Russian, Igor Kalashnikov by just 4 tenths of a second.
In the semis, it was a clear cut Hungary versus Germany for the final, leaving Tsarykovich of Belarus and Garcia to battle it out for the bronze. Both the bronze medal race and the final were photo finishes, meaning the afternoon ended with a bang. First up, the bronze medal race, the Belarusian completed the course in 1.32.60, the Spaniard in 1.32.47. Garcia took Spain to the bronze podium spot.
The closest showdown came in the final though, Liebschert clocking a time of 1.29.05, Totka making it round in 1.28.91. The crowd lifted the roof to what Totka himself called an “awesome” race.
So with Canoe Sprint all wrapped up, it is time to focus on Canoe Slalom. How will the Canoe Sprint specialists stand up to the Slalom course? Will we see any athletes medal in both events? Keep watching to find out.
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