An exceptionally strong field will greet Lisa Carrington at the A Final tomorrow in Rio, scheduled to start at 00:47am Wednesday NZT (09:47 Tuesday Rio Time).
Carrington holds on to her moniker of favourite as fastest qualifier, with a time of 39:561sec. Hot on her tail is Osipenko-Rodomska of Azerbajan (formerly of the Ukraine) who won bronze at London 2012, the only other athlete to qualify in under 40 seconds.
Lisa a great start in her Heat 1, lead the entire race and won by a convincing half a boat in 40.422sec.
However, each of the other heats became progressively faster. In Heat 2, Walczykiewicz (Poland) also took the lead early, pushing really hard to finish in 40.263 seconds followed closely by Ponomarenko Janic (Slovakia) in 40.387sec.
In Heat 3 Sarah Guyot (France) outclassed the rest of her field in Heat 3, including Linnea Stensils (Sweden, 40.828sec) and Portela Rivas (Spain, 40.844).
Massive focus propelled Osipenko-Rodomska of Azerbajan half boat length ahead of her competition in Heat 4: she leaned well forward over the boat to finish in 40.702seconds.
Walczykiewicz (Poland) pulled hard to take Semifinal 1 emphatically by half boat length (40.619sec) followed by Sweden (41.245sec) and South Africa (41.478sec). Great Britain was unlucky to miss out so narrowly a hair's breath behind at 41.483sec.
Semifinal 2 saw a slight tail wind. Osipenko-Rodomska absolutely smashed it out of the box, powering away from the field and finishing just below the 40 second barrier(39.803sec).
In Carrington's next race, Semifinal 3, the drama began prior to the race when Kohlhova retrieved a pile of waterweed from the course. She was unable to regain focus for the start and finished well back.
As a student of psychology, Lisa would have been well aware of the edge being the favourite can bring. So despite having a lucky draw free of serious challengers, she chose to put it all out there anyway. Once again, Carrington made a quick exit from the start line to lead the entire length of race, earning first place and fastest qualifying time of 39.561sec.
Lisa Carrington competing in a ICF World Cup Semifinal earlier this year showed the same focus as at the racing today.
Although Carrington looked focussed, the pressure of expectation for a ‘double gold’ seems to be weighing heavily on her broad shoulders. She looked 'in the zone' but lacked the relaxed, positive spirit we usually see – not even allowing herself a small smile after the finish line. Still, with the heats and semis raced so close together, it must have been an exhausting day.
Discussing the calibre of her competition with Sky commentator Scotty Stevenson, Lisa said:
Those girls are incredibly fast. I guess it's great to be in a field where everyone is going fast and their best is awesome and anyone could be on the podium on the day.
Carrington plans to recover for the rest of the day, chill out and prepare for the big race tomorrow.
Scheduled to start at 00:47am Wednesday NZT (09:47 Tuesday Rio Time).
1 KLINOVA Inna Kazakstan
2 STENSILS Linnea Sweden
3 GUYOT Sarah France
4 CARRINGTON Lisa New Zealand
5 WALCZYKIEWICZ Marta Poland
6 OSIPENKO-RODOMSKA Inna Azebajan
7 PORTELA RIVAS Teresa Spain
8 PONOMARENKO JANIC Spela Solvakia
Marty McDowell has been eliminated from the running at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
In an extremely strong line up, including multiple ICF Championship title holders, Pimenta (Portugal) lead the pack from the start and was chased by a terminator-like Max Hoff of Germany. McDowell also started well, keeping up with the pack and placing fourth at the halfway mark. However the competition was simply too strong: McDowell slowed as the rest pulled away. Marty placed seventh in 3:39.588.
In fact, the other paddlers in the race finished in faster times than any other heat winner. It was deja vu for Marty: last year's world champs he also landed in a superstar heat and was knocked out.
Marty certainly gave it everything and we are proud he made to the Olympics.
Pimenta won in 3:33.140sec Overall, Australian Murray Stewart qualified fastest for the A final in 3:32.602sec.
Scott Martlew has competed his Rio Paralympic Dream with an eighth place finish in the A Final.