Aug. 17, ATHENS, Greece – Rebecca Giddens (Green Bay, Wis.) placed fifth in the women’s K-1 slalom canoe/kayak qualifying race Tuesday and will advance to the semifinals Wednesday. Semifinals may be broadcast live on NBC starting around 12:35 a.m. Eastern time, or 9:35 p.m. Tuesday Pacific time.
With a clean penalty-free first run, Giddens completed her heat in third place with a time of 108.36. She picked up four seconds of penalties on her second attempt at the course after touching two gates. Giddens finished the day with a combined time of 224.94.
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“For the most part, I paddled well, but I have some things to go home and think about to get ready for tomorrow,” Giddens said.
Leading the field after the first day is Jennifer Bongardt of Germany. Closely behind are Elena Kaliska of Slovakia and Helen Reeves of Great Britain. 1996 and 2000 gold medalist Stepanka Hilgertova of the Czech Republic is in 11th place.
Giddens will start her semifinal race at 11:05 a.m. on Wednesday. Of the fifteen-boat field, 10 will advance to the finals Wednesday starting at 12:20.
Chris Ennis (Bryson City, N.C.) had a tough race in the C-1 (one-person canoe) class. His two-run combined time of 290.73 did not qualify him for the semifinals.
In his first run, Ennis' boat flipped in the drop the athletes nicknamed “Margaritaville” heading toward gate 16 which caused him to miss the gate. The penalty for missing a gate is 50 seconds. He also received a two second penalty for touching gate 18. Ennis was penalized four seconds for gate touches in his second attempt.
“In the first run, I started out great and was paddling as well as I ever have,” Ennis said. “I chose a bad line coming out of gate 14, and I suffered for it.”
1996 gold and 2000 silver medalist Michal Martikan of Slovakia is in first place heading into Wednesday's races. 2000 gold medalist Tony Estanguet of France and Mariusz Wieczorek of Poland are in second and third.
Giddens on the course:
“It's very physical, and there are a lot of features that can grab you.”
Giddens on comparing Athens to Sydney:
“The obvious difference is the salt water, but I do a lot of surfing in San Diego (Calif.) so I'm used to it.”
Giddens on preparing for Athens:
“This year, I didn't focus on World Cups. My main focus was to come here and compete in the Games and be prepared for this.”
Ennis on his second run:
“For the second run, it was mentally difficult to get back out there. But for me, getting here was incredible, and I loved every minute of this morning.”
Ennis on the sport of slalom canoe/kayak:
“It's phenomenal, challenging, technical and one of the most difficult sports imaginable. The more you put in, the more you get out.”
Ennis on cheering on his teammates:
“I'll be yelling for everybody the rest of the week. They're some of my best friends, and I want them to learn from what I did, and go out there and kick some butt.”
Ennis on Rebecca Giddens:
“She's as good as they get, and she's so mentally strong.”