International Canoe Federation Media Release

No: beijing0803

11 August 2008

Slalom C1 Heats report and photographs

Beijing, China - Slovakian C1 legend Michal Martikan signalled his intentions of ending his back-to-back Olympic silver medal streak with two unmatched runs in the heats of the Olympic slalom C1 competition at the impressive man-made wild water course at Shunyi, north East of Beijing.

Martikan, who has had to play second fiddle to France's Tony Estanguet at the last two Olympics since he won gold in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, was in a class of his own as the sixteen athletes raced for the twelve berths in the semi-finals on Tuesday.

Martikan's two clear runs were the fastest of the day, but importantly the stocky, slight Slovakian showed that he has the combination of strength and subtle technique to master the demands posed by the powerful and technical 280 metre long channel.

His speed and glide in the upstream gates set him apart from the rest of the field, as he took the first step towards a second Olympic gold with a brace of fast runs.

Martikan however downplayed his times. "The times are not important," he said. "The real race starts tomorrow, with the semi-finals and the final."

The fastest time of the day belonged to Great Britain's David Florence, who bounced back from posting the seventh fastest first run, with a blistering 82 second second run that has set a new benchmark for this course.

Germany's Jan Benzien also made his point by being the only other paddler to cover the course in less that 85 seconds with an impressive clear second run.

Czech Republic ace Stanislav Jezek also put his hand up with two solid and fast runs that kept him at the top of the leaderboard until he was trumped by the speed of Florence and Benzien.

Defending Olympic champion Tony Estanguet was nervy and hesitant on the first day of competition on what was widely regarded as a fair and manageable course set on the powerful 17 cumecs of water. After a jittery first run he posted a far more convincing second to finish the heats in sixth place.

Martikan made his intentions clear from the outset with a clinical and aggressive first run, with his trademark fast glide and speed on the upstream gates allowing him to post the fastest first run time.

With Spaniard Ander Elosegui and Russian Alexander Lipatov also posting fast clear rounds, Australian Robin Bell found himself sixth, after a sluggish top section of the course.

Further down the field Japans Takuya Haneda, Poland's Krzystof Bieryt and Croat Emir Mujcinvic all picked up two second penalties for touching gates, sending them into the bottom four on the leaderboard, where they faced the risk of not qualifying for the semi-finals.

They were joined there by South African "Master" Cele, who was a bundle of nerves, and had to twice Eskimo roll after capsizing on the top half of the course. He then accumulated a fifty second penalty for missed a gate in the lower section, effectively sealing the end of his dreams of reaching the semi-finals.

Bieryt bailed himself out of trouble with a fast second run which saw him depose Canadian into thirteenth place, and out of the semi-finals

The C1 slalom event will conclude on Tuesday when semi-finals will decide the eight finalists, who will then contest the Olympic medals.

 

SUMMARY OF RESULTS
Combined times of first and second runs
1.Michal Martikan SLK 170.15
2.Jan Benzien GER 170.50
3.David Florence GBR 171.63
4.Stanislav Jezek CZE 172.09
5.Ander Elosegui ESP 172.47
6.Tony Estanguet FRA 176.08
7.Robin Bell AUS 176.45
8.Christos Tsakmakis GRE 177.54
9.Alexander Lipatov RUS 178.16
10.Benn Fraker USA 179.44
11.Liming Feng CHN 181.99
12.Krzystof Bieryt POL 183.29
13.James Cartwright CAN 184.63 DNQ
14.Takuya Haneda JPN 186.32 DNQ
15.Emir Mujcinovic CRO 189.31 DNQ
16.Siboniso Cele RSA 262.93 DNQ

ENDS

Photo Caption Photographer Click to download the hi-res pic
Siboniso Cele RSA.

Pic:Bálint Vékássy /
ICF

Liming Feng CHN.

Pic:Bálint Vékássy /ICF

Emir Mujcinovic CRO.

Pic:Bálint Vékássy /
ICF

Alexander Lipatov RUS.

Pic:Bálint Vékássy /ICF

James Cartwright CAN.

Pic:Bálint Vékássy /
ICF

Takuya Haneda JPN.

Pic:Bálint Vékássy /ICF

Ander Elosegui ESP.

Pic:Bálint Vékássy /
ICF

Benn Fraser USA.

Pic:Bálint Vékássy /ICF

Krzystof Bieryt POL.

Pic:Bálint Vékássy /
ICF

Christos Tsamakis GRE.

Pic:Bálint Vékássy /ICF

Jen Benzien GER.

Pic:Bálint Vékássy /
ICF

Stanislav Jezek CZE.

Pic:Bálint Vékássy /ICF

David Florence GBR.

Pic:Bálint Vékássy /
ICF

Robin Bell AUS.

Pic:Bálint Vékássy /ICF

Tony Estanguet FRA.

Pic:Bálint Vékássy /
ICF

Michal Martikan SVK.

Pic:Bálint Vékássy /ICF

For any further information, or if you cannot access the images, please contact:
Dave Macleod
ICF Media Officer
dave@gameplanmedia.co.za
Mobile 086 135 22187252