Aug. 25, ATHENS – The pleasant weather and good wind conditions in Schinias Wednesday were not enough to help the U.S. flatwater sprint canoe/kayak boats move on to Friday’s finals. None of the four boats in the first day of semifinals advanced.
The women’s K-4 500m team of Carrie Johnson (San Diego, Calif.), Kathy Colin (Kailua, Hawaii), Lauren Spalding (Maui, Hawaii) and Marie Mijalis (Miami, Fla.) raced tough to a close finish with a time of 1:35.869, just two tenths of a second behind third place Canada. Only three boats advanced to Friday’s finals.
Colin, the veteran of this crew of fairly new racers, said the team was prepared for the race.
“I knew we could do it, and I really thought we were going to. I don’t know what went wrong. We gave it all we could, and I guess it just wasn’t our day,” Colin said.
Colin and Spalding will race in Thursday’s semifinals in the women’s K-2 500m event. Johnson competes in the women’s K-1 500m.
On the men’s side, Jeff Smoke (Buchanan, Mich.) and Andy Bussey (Kailua, Hawaii) had a personal best time of 3:16.341 in the men’s K-2 1,000m event but missed advancing to the finals. The duo has only competed at one other race together, finishing ninth at the World Cup in Germany earlier this year.
“In Germany, we had better results, but the competition wasn’t as strong as the Olympics. I’m not disappointed at all with these results,” Bussey said.
“We had a much better race today, so we’re happy with it. We raced our plan and beat our personal best time by three seconds. Although we didn’t make the finals, we’re happy with where we are. This year was a good start, and we know where we stand now,” Smoke said.
In another tough field, Benjie Lewis (Aventura, Fla.) finished the men’s K-1 1,000m with a time of 3:47.426 and did not make the top three.
“I’m happy that I made it this far. I guess it’s an optimistic attitude,” Lewis said.
The men’s C-2 1,000m boat of Jordan Malloch (Seattle, Wash.) and Nate Johnson (Seattle, Wash.) was also eliminated. The team finished the race with a time of 3:46.036. They will compete in the men’s C-2 500m event in Thursday’s semifinals.
Head coach Jerzy Dzaidkowiec is disappointed with today’s results but is hopeful for tomorrow’s semifinals.
“They showed decent effort and achievement today, but it was close and we need more years of experience. We can see the boats developing well, but unfortunately we didn’t make it today. Our strongest boats will be performing tomorrow,” Dzaidkowiec said.
The second day of semifinals begins Thursday with Rami Zur (Berkeley, Calif.) competing in the men’s K-1 500m event at 8:40 a.m. Zur will also team up with Bartosz Wolski (New Britain, Conn.) in the men’s K-2 500m race at 9:40 a.m.
C. Johnson has a start time of 9:30 a.m. for the women’s K-1 500m event.
The C-2 team of Malloch and N. Johnson lines up for the 500m race at 10 a.m.
Colin and Spalding race in the women’s K-2 500m competition at 10:10 a.m.
The top three finishers in each race move on to Saturday’s finals.
Jeff Smoke on the future:
“I definitely see a lot of potential for the U.S. We can see from the results that we have a long way to go.”
Smoke on his family history of kayaking:
“I’ve been around kayaking my whole life. I’ve only been training for three years, so I didn’t plan on making this Olympics. I thought it was out of my reach. There was no pressure from my family at all. That’s why I waited so long to do it because it was on my own terms.”
*Note: Smoke’s mother Marcia Jones Smoke won a bronze medal in the women’s K-1 500m event at the 1964 Olympics. She finished fourth in 1968 and ninth in 1972. His father, Bill Smoke, was a member of the 1964 Olympic Team, and his aunt paddled on the 1968 and 1972 teams.
Andy Bussey on the future:
“Next year, we expect to be in the top nine at World Championships and be medal contenders for Beijing. With time and more training, we can be one of the top boats in the world.”
Whitewater slalom kayaker Brett Heyl on his impressions of flatwater sprint:
“It was great to watch head to head action and to see the other half of our sport.”
Head coach Jerzy Dzaidkowiec on the women’s K-4 500m team:
“We lost the women’s K-4 boat, but the competition was tough and unfortunately they came in fourth by a small margin. It wasn’t a huge loss, and they lost by fighting hard.”
Dzaidkowiec on the future:
“We have a very young crew, and we have to keep building so they will have experience for the 2008 Olympics.”