U.S. Out in Sprint Paddling
Aug. 26, ATHENS – Two fourth-place finishes on Thursday prevented any U.S. boat from advancing to the finals of the flatwater sprint canoe/kayak competition at the Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Centre in Schinias. Only the top three in each semifinal race advance to Saturday’s finals. None of the four boats that competed in Wednesday’s semifinals moved on.
Rami Zur (Berkeley, Calif.) and Carrie Johnson (San Diego, Calif.) finished fourth in the men’s K-1 500m and women’s K-1 500m semifinals, respectively.
Halfway through the race, Zur was in second place only three-tenths of a second behind the eventual winner, Ian Wynne of Great Britain. Germany’s Lutz Altepost and France’s Babak Amir Tahmasseb surged late, with Amir Tahmasseb blasting forward to finish in third place, less than three-tenths of a second ahead of Zur. Zur’s fourth place finish posted a time of 1:40.727.
“I’m disappointed, but I’m going to go home and work on the things that I did wrong in the past season and in preparation and try to correct them for the next four years. Beijing is now my target,” Zur said.
Johnson paddled a strong race to a fifth-place finish with a time of 1:56.712. She moved into fourth place after Aneta Pastuszka of Poland was disqualified because her boat was below the required weight.
“I had a good race, and I did my best. That’s all I can really ask of myself,” Johnson said.
In the men’s K-2 500m race, Zur and Bartosz Wolski (New Britain, Conn.) came in sixth with a time of 1:33.482.
Kathy Colin (Kailua, Hawaii) and Lauren Spalding (Maui, Hawaii) tried to make one last run at the finals after being eliminated in the women’s K-4 500m semifinals on Wednesday. The duo finished in seventh place in the women’s K-2 500m race with a time of 1:46.786.
“I honesty gave it my all, and I just wish it wasn’t seventh place. I know I gave it my all every stroke of the race. I have no regrets, and that’s all I can ask for,” Colin said.
Jordan Malloch (Seattle, Wash.) and Nate Johnson (Seattle, Wash.) again faced a tough field of C-2 boats in the 500m event and completed the race in 1:46.424 for an eighth place finish.
“We knew we had to get in the top three, and we tried to stay with the pack as much as possible,” Malloch said.
“There are a few things we needed to improve on to do it, and we improved a little but there are a few things we still need to do. We have four years to fix our problems,” Johnson said.
David Yarborough, executive director of USA Canoe/Kayak, is disappointed with these results but is confident for more success in the future.
“This is hugely disappointing for all of us, especially our athletes who have worked so hard for four years. It’s time to regroup and rethink what things we should be doing differently to achieve a better outcome in four years,” Yarborough said.
Friday’s finals will feature races in the following events: men’s K-1 1,000m, men’s C-1 1,000m, women’s K-4 500m, men’s K-2 1,000m, men’s C-2 1,000m and men’s K-4 1,000m.
Racing in Saturday’s finals will be the following events: men’s K-1 500m, men’s C-1 500m, women’s K-1 500m, men’s K-2 500m, men’s C-2 500m and women’s K-2 500m.
The U.S. canoe/kayak team earned one medal at the 2004 Olympic Games. Rebecca Giddens (Green Bay, Wis.) grabbed a silver medal in the whitewater slalom women’s K-1 competition.