Aug. 20, ATHENS, – Scott Parsons (Sylvania, Ohio) just sneaked into the finals of the whitewater slalom men's K-1 (one-person kayak) final on Friday but moved his way up to a sixth place finish at the 2004 Olympic Games.
After the semifinals, Parsons did not think his performance would send him to the finals, but the scoreboard showed otherwise. His time of 96.82 seconds put him in ninth place of the ten boats advancing to the finals.
“I made two big mistakes, and I'll be really surprised if I get in,” Parsons said before the semifinals were over.
Parsons' two clean, penalty-free races, however, sent him to sixth place with a total combined time of 194.76 seconds. France claimed two medals with Benoit Peschier taking home the gold and Fabien Lefevre earning the bronze. Campbell Walsh of Great Britain won the silver medal.
“I'm just happy to finish with a solid clean run,” Parsons said. “In the past, my runs in the finals haven't been so good, so it was good to move up a little and finish with a result I'm happy with.”
Also in men's K-1 action, Brett Heyl (Norwich, Vt.) finished 15th in the semifinals with a time of 100.28 and did not advance to the finals.
“I paddled hard and never really found my groove,” he said. “I got a lot of experience, and now I know what the Olympics feels like. Hopefully, four years from now, I'll be at the top and favored coming in.”
In the C-2 (two-person canoe) race, the team of Matt Taylor (Atlanta, Ga.) and Joe Jacobi (Ducktown, Tenn.) came in eighth, missing the cut of the six teams that advanced to the finals. The duo had a run of 111.14 with two seconds of penalties.
Taylor and Jacobi, both second-time Olympians, left the race feeling positive about their performance as well as their futures. Both are fathers, and Taylor is expecting his third child within a month.
“There were some really good parts, and I'm not that disappointed,” Taylor said. “I was disappointed during the race, but I just kept looking forward. The after-effect is a little relief to know that we're done with this stage, and we see where we stack in this great field of C-2s.”
“We paddled pretty well but had a couple of small mistakes,” Jacobi said. “At this point looking back, it's been an incredible journey, a fantastic process and as much fun as one person should have.”
The team of Pavol and Peter Hochschorner of Slovakia picked up the gold medal in the C-2 event. Marcus Becker and Stefan Henze of Germany won the silver, and Jaroslav Volf and Ondrej Stepanek of the Czech Republic claimed the bronze.
The canoe/kayak flatwater sprint competition begins on Monday at the Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Centre in Schinias.
Parsons on making the finals:
“That's the way the Olympics are, and who knows what's going to happen. I guess the other people's mistakes kinda worked out for me.”
Parsons on his Olympic experience:
“The whole experience was awesome. I spent some time in the village so it was cool to experience village life. The course is awesome, and it was great to race in front of 8,000 people. The whole world is here. This is just awesome.”
Parsons on Rebecca Giddens' silver medal:
“She's proven she can be in the top three and one of the best in the world.”
Parsons on the next step:
“It's been a long time for the past three years preparing for this, and I'm happy with this result. Everyone comes here wanting a medal, but I'm happy with this.”
Heyl on his race:
“I'm not sure I really raced my race. I ended up doing moves and didn't do them the way I wanted to. I wasn't as crisp as yesterday.”
Heyl on his performance:
“If I wasn't feeling the whitewater, it doesn't matter how well you do the gates.”
Jacobi on the team:
“I'm proud to be a part of this team and represent the United States.”
Jacobi on helping the sport of canoe/kayak:
“We wanted the Jacobi/Taylor team to be more than us as athletes. There is a lot we can do to help this sport. I'm sure a lot of good things will come from what culminated today.”
Jacobi on the experience:
“We showed people how much fun we have, and that's a big message to all the athletes back home who paddle slalom.”
Jacobi on the competition:
“Every boat in today's race, we could put up as a poster child and say 'what else would you rather do than paddle a C-2 in the Olympic Games?'”
Taylor on promoting the sport:
“Our competitors paddled well, and the U.S. paddled well, and that's a good promotion for our sport.”
Taylor on the race:
“You'd love to have another opportunity, but life isn't about second chances.”