They’re finally over. The culmination of four years of training and competing for the world’s best whitewater and flatwater paddlers ended Sat., Aug. 23, at Beijing’s Shunyi Whitewater Park as the Olympics take a hiatus until reappearing in London in 2012. While the U.S. results are a bit disappointing – only two finals appearance out of seven paddlers, for an 8th-place showing – the wrap-up means back to the water for boaters the world over.
While PL has already reported on the slalom results, the flatwater events bear lessons for all.
Want to paddle faster with your partner across that wind-swept lake in the Boundary Waters? Take a lesson from the Bahndanovich brothers, Andrei and Aliasksandr, ages 20 and 26, from Belarus, who proved themselves the fastest long-distance canoe tandem in the world with a time of 3:31:36 over the 1000-meter course, barely two-tenths of a second faster than the German team of Christian Gille and Thomasz Wykenzek. But also take home a lesson from Wykenzek and drink your fluids. He was so dehydrated at the race’s end that he was carted away on a stretcher and fed a drip line, forcing him to miss his silver medal ceremony.
For tandem sea kayak tips, and how to make that crossing in the San Juans quicker, look to Germany’s Martin Hollstein and Andreas Ihle, winners in the two-man kayak 1,000-meter event. PL would want them on its team on any crossing.
If it’s sprint kayak technique you’re after, say for that last-minute push to the beach to secure the best camp or chasing those rising fish you saw just moments ago, look to Australia’s Ken Wallace, the world’s fastest kayaker, for pointers, who stormed to a first-place finish in the men’s K1 500-meter event barely ahead of Canada’s Adam vanKouverden. For the women, uit was Germany’s Katrin Wagner-Augustin. For fastest sprint canoeing tidbits, get your lessons from C1 500-meter winner Russia’s Maxim Opalev and silver medalist David Cal from Spain.
If you want the best two-man sprint kayakers in the business, look to surprise gold medalsits Saul Craviotto and Carlos Perez of Spain, who barely edged out Germany’s Ronald Rauhe and Tim Wieskotter, who hadn’t been beaten since 2001. For their sprint counterparts in canoe, take a lesson from the Far East, and reigning Olympic champs Guanliang Meng and Wenjun Yang successfully defended their C2 500-meter sprint title from the Athens Games, with a narrow finish over Russian and Germany. Finally, don’t mess with Hungary when it comes to two-women kayak. Kataliln Kovacs and Janic Natasa proved they’re still the pair to beat with their gold-medal performance.
“There are a lot of paddling hotbeds all over the world,” says Olympic announcer and 1992 gold medalist Joe Jacobi. “The U.S. is as well, but it just didn’t show it at these games.”
Indeed, when all was said and done, the U.S.’s highest showing was in slalom C1 with Benn Fraker’s 6th-place showing.
So who’s the best overall paddling country? While Slovakia reigns in whitewater, taking golds in C1, C2 and women’s kayak, it’s Germany in the catbird’s seat with seven total medals (gold whitewater in men’s kayak, six in flatwater), followed by Australia in second with five (two whitewater, three flatwater), and Hungary and Slovakia in a tie for third.
Flatwater racing Day Six Finals report and photographs
Beijing – A new generation of Olympic champions was crowned on the podium at
the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park on the final day of flatwater racing
competition that produced plenty of drama, and a number of unexpected
Australian Kenny Wallace shot to Olympic stardom with a sensational victory
in the men’s 500m K1 final, dethroning Olympic champion Adam Van Koeverden
in a thrilling race in which the entire field crossed the line in less than
a second and a half of each other.
Van Koeverden looked determined to erase his disappointing showing in the
previous day’s men’s 1000m K1 final and took an early lead, which he held
for 900 metres. However it was Wallace in lane two, out of sight of van
Koeverden, who was able to up his strokerate to snatch the gold, with van
Koeverden holding on against the charging Briton Tim Brabants in lane one to
take the silver medal.
“I am ecstatic!” said Wallace. “I didn’t really know where I was. After the
finish line I didn’t really want to look but I am so happy.”
In the men’s 500m C1 final Maxim Opalev of the Russian Federation won a gold
medal to go with the silver he won in Sydney and the bronze in Athens,
racing a perfectly timed race to finish half a boatlength clear of world
champ David Cal, and Ukrainian Iurii Cheban.
The pace was dictated at the outset by Belarus’ Alaiksandr Zhokovski, who
led through the 250 metre mark. However the pace was too hot for him to to
maintain, and he was clinically reeled in by the rest of the field and
finished fifth behind Frenchman Mathieu Goubel.
“With this gold medal around my neck I feel very powerful,” said Opalev.
“I’m very happy to bring this gold medal back to my homeland.”
The women’s 500m K1 final produced another Olympic surprise as Ukrainian
Inna Osypenko-Radomska, who won the bronze medal in Athens in 2004, stormed
home in a spectacular charge from lane three to snatch a sensational
Pre-race favourite Katalin Kovacs led the race for much of it’s duration,
but her multiple gold-medal dreams for the Beijing Games were shattered as
she was overtaken first by Italy’s Josefa Idem, racing his her fifth Olympic
Games, and Germany’s Katrin Wagner-Augustin, before Osypenko-Radomska’s
headline stealing charge on the outside settled the 2008 Olympic title.
“The race was so close I didn’t know I was winning because I was so close to
(Josefa Idem of) Italy,” said Osypenko-Radomska afterwards.
The Spanish men’s 500m K2 crew of Saul Craviotto and Carlos Perez managed to
do what many others had failed to do, and win their final after taking the
lead from the start. The duo’s brave tactic paid handsome dividends as they
held on to deny the stunned defending champions Ronald Rauhe and Tim
Wieskotter of Germany, with the Belarussians Raman Piatrushenka and Vadzim
Makhneu taking the bronze medals ahead of the Hungarians Zoltan Kammerer and
“It is wonderful that we got gold because we weren’t expecting it,” said
Craviotto. “This past month we weren’t so good and in the last three months
we suffered a bit. We weren’t expecting this, so we cannot believe it.”
“It has been eight years at the top. It wasn’t going to last forever,” said
Rauhe. “How can we not be happy with an Olympic silver? But not getting gold
The result that the local crowd lining the course wanted came in the men’s
500m C2 final, where the Chinese crew that stunned the Athens Games raced
superbly to claim gold and retain their Olympic title. Meng Guanliang and
Yang Wenjun set a fast pace from the start and dominated the race at the
front, and had enough strength in the crucial final hundred metres to hold
off Russians Sergey Ulegin and Alexander Kostoglod, before capsizing just
after crossing the line.
The gold medal was particularly sweet for Meng Guanliang, who retired in
2006 to get married, and returned to the sport only a year before the
Beijing Olympics. “It was not easy, especially after getting married,” he
said. “I had to lose weight, do a large amount of exercise and put in a lot
of effort into our training. I want to dedicate this medal to my son.”
After looking like they were fading in the latter stages, the classy German
crew of Christian Gille and Thomasz Wylenzek won the bronze medals, a
fitting reward for the gutsy Wylenzek who was under medical supervision
overnight after fainting from dehydration and stress from the 1000 C2 final.
“I couldn’t sleep last night because I woke up yesterday two hours after the
event not knowing where I was,” said Wylenzek.
The Hungarian women had to wait until the last final of the Beijing Olympic
Games to grab their first gold, when Katalin Kovacs, who only an hour before
had raced in the women’s 500m K1 final, and Natasa Janics managed to retain
the title they won in Athens.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
FINAL MENS 500m K1
1.Ken Wallace AUS 1:37.252
2.Adam van Koeverden CAN 1:37.630
3.Tim Brabants GBR 1:37.671
4.Eirik Veraas Larsen NOR 1:37.949
5.Anton Ryakhov RUS 1:38.187
6.Akos Vereckei HUN 1:38.318
7.Anders Gustafsson SWE 1:38.447
8.Steven Ferguson NZL 1:38.512
9.Stjepan Janic CRO 1:38.729
FINAL MENS 500m C1
1.Maxim Opalev RUS 1:47.140
2.David Cal ESP 1:48.397
3.Iurii Cheban UKR 1:48.766
4.Mathieu Goubel FRA 1:49.056
5.Alaiksandr Zhukovski BLR 1:49.092
6.Li Qiang CHN 1:49.287
7.Florin Georgian Mironcic ROU 1:49.861
8.Pawel Baraszkiewicz POL 1:50.048
9.Attila Vajda HUN 1:50.156
FINAL WOMEN’S 500m K1
1.Inna Osypenko-Radomska UKR 1:50.673
2.Josefa Idem ITA 1:50.677
3.Katrin Wagner-Augustin GER 1:51.022
4.Katalin Kovacs HUN 1:51.139
5.Zhong Hongyan CHN 1:52.220
6.Spela Ponomarenko SLO 1:52.363
7.Lucy Wainwright GBR 1:53.102
8.Jennifer Hodson RSA 1:53.353
9.Yuliana Salakhova RUS 1:53.973
FINAL MEN’S 500m K2
1.Saul Craviotto/Carlos Perez ESP
2.Ronald Rauhe/Tim Wieskotter GER
3.Raman Piatrushenka/Vadzim Makhneu BLR
4.Zoltan Kammerer/Gabor Kucsera HUN
5.Kim Wraae Knudsen/Rene Holten Poulsen DEN
6.Richard Dober Jr/Andrew Willows CAN
7.Vincent Lecruibier/Sebastien Jouve FRA
8.Marek Twardowski/Adam Wysocki POL
9.Andrea Facchin/Antonio Massimiliano Scaduto ITA
FINAL MEN’S 500m C2
1.Meng Guanliang/Yang Wenjun CHN 1:41.025
2.Sergey Ulegin /Alexander Kostoglod RUS 1:41.282
3.Christian Gille/Thomasz Wylenzek GER 1:41.964
4.Andrei Bahdanovich/Aliaksandr Bahdanovich BLR 1:41.996
5.Andrew Russell/Gabriel Beachesne-Sevigny CAN 1:42.450
6.Iosif Chirila/Andrei Cuculici ROU 1:43.195
7.Deyan Georgiev /Adnan Aliev BUL 1:43.971
8.Sergiy Bezuglyy/Maksym Prokopenko UKR 1:44.157
9.Daniel Jedraszko/Roman Rynkiewicz POL 1:44.389
FINAL WOMEN”S 500m K1
1.Elena Kaliska SVK 192.64
2.Jacqueline Lawrance AUS 206.94
3.Violetta Oblinger Peters AUT 214.77
4.Yuriko Takeshita JPN 219.30
5.Agnieszka Stanuch POL 221.08
6.Ariane Herde NED 231.99
7.Emilie Fer FRA 251.96
8.Heather Corrie USA 270.88
9.Stepanka Hilgertova CZE 344.41
10.Maria Cristina Giai Pron ITA 355.78
FINAL WOMEN’S 500m K2
1.Katalin Kovacs/Natasa Janic HUN 1:41.308
2.Beata Mikolajczyk/Aneta Konieczna POL 1:42.092
3.Marie Delattre/Anne-Laure Viard FRA 1:42.128
4.Fanny Fischer/Nicole Reinhardt GER 1:42.899
5.Shinobu Kitamoto/Mikiko Takeya JPN 1:43.291
6.Hannah Davis/Lyndsie Fogarty AUS 1:43.969
7.Anne Rikala /Jenni Mikkonen FIN 1:44.176
8.Michala Mruzkova/Jana Blahova CZE 1:44.870
9.Yvonne Schuring/Viktoria Schwarz AUT 1:44.965