Away from the kayaking at Eton Dorney there was also the canoeing heats taking place. In the men’s c2 class (canoeing x2 man) there was much interest in the German pairing of Peter Kretschmer and Kurt Kuschela in the first heat and the Azerbaijani team who were the world silver medal winners in 2011.
Both heats were at the least a formality with the two much fancied teams making it seem an everyday event at the lake and making it through with consummate ease in their respective heats.
In heat two, the Azerbaijan team which consisted of Sergiy Bezugliy and Maksim Prokopenko made easy work of the 1000 metres and looked fresh as they crossed the finishing line a full three seconds of their closest rivals Brazil. Surprisingly the second heat saw Romania false start, one of the few teams to have done so throughout the whole of London 2012.
This didn’t put off the rhythm or expectancy of the Azerbaijani team and it can be certain that they will give Germany possibly the strongest challenge in the final itself.
The first semi-final saw the Australians continue their fellow countrymen’s poor and shocking form at this year’s Olympics and it wasn’t long before they dropped out of the running altogether. Russia showed their class in the event by piping the Belarus team to the finishing line with the Rumanian’s narrowly holding off the Polish team to finish third.
The second semi-final saw the much fancied Brazilians of Silva and Oliveira look set to join Germany and Azerbaijan in the final but they false started first time round. The plucky Angolan team were left behind from the off and it was shame after all their preparations that they couldn’t make more of a race of it. Even though the Brazilian team started well they soon began to struggle and with China leading and the Cubans and the Czech Republic not far behind, it seemed that for all the bluster of the Brazilian team it may have been too much for them after the strong finish in the heat.
In the end the Chinese posted a time 3.37.746 to make sure of their place in the final as semi-final winners.
Germany and Azerbaijan qualify for the final as heat winners alongside Belarus, Russia, Rumania from semi-final one and China, Cuba and the Czech Republic from the second semi-final.
Ian D. Hall