Van Koeverden takes silver
Canadian relieved to win a medal 24 hours after devastating loss
Canadian Adam van Koeverden won the silver medal in the K-1 500 on Saturday, finding some redemption after a dismal performance in the 1000 metres the day before.
"It was a great moment and the feeling is mostly relief," he told CBC Sports. "Yesterday, I just didn’t feel like myself. Today, I was climbing back up, getting it back a little bit, but that last 200 still didn’t feel like me. It was a struggle, a well-fought struggle, and I’m really, really happy."
Van Koeverden had a commanding lead for most of the race but, with about ten metres remaining, he was edged out by former training partner, Australian Ken Wallace, who clocked a time of one minute and 37.252 seconds.
Tim Brabants (1:37.671) of Great Britain claimed the bronze.
Van Koeverden finished with a time of 1:37.630.
"I just focused on relaxing for the first half so I could have a big second half. In hindsight, maybe I didn’t relax enough in the first half," he said. "But I was excited and, honestly, I just wanted to get it done. And, that’s what I did."
Heading into the Games, he was considered a medal favourite in the 500 because he was the defending Olympic and world champion, and had won all three races on the World Cup circuit this season.
But in the hours before the 500 final, there was some concern he wouldn't be in top form for the big race; he suffered a crushing defeat on Friday, finishing eighth in a field of nine paddlers in the 1000.
Van Koeverden was one of the strongest medal contenders heading into that race, having won two gold medals and one bronze in three World Cup races this season. He also claimed the bronze in the 1000 at the 2004 Athens Games.
Van Koeverden admitted to being plagued by self-doubt after Friday's disappointment.
"I didn’t really sleep last night. I felt like everything was getting turned upside down, and I didn’t know why. I was searching but also trying to ignore it, because it wasn’t really the time [to look for] answers.
"I'm exhausted. I’m tired. I don’t know what it is, but this isn’t my best regatta," the Oakville, Ont., native said. "But I’m really happy to pull through with a medal for Canada. It’s not the colour I expected, but I didn’t earn [the gold] today and [this is] what I deserve."
Brabants won the gold in the 1000.
Richard Dober and Andrew Willows finished sixth of nine paddlers in the finals, which ended in dramatic fashion.
While the Canadians fell from contention, Spaniards Saul Craviotto and Carlos Perez opened a commanding lead. They were running away with the race until Ronald Rauhe and Tim Wieskoter from Germany gained ground, threatening to overtake them.
In the end, the Spaniards (1:28.736) captured the gold medal, the Germans (1:28.827) took the silver and a pair from Belarus (1:30.005) claimed the bronze.
Dober, from Trois Rivieres, Que., and Willlows, from Gananoque, Ont., recorded a time of 1:30.857.
The German pair set the current world record, 1:26.971, in 2002.
Canadians Andrew Russell and Gabriel Beauchesne-Sevigny placed fifth in a tight race.
China's Guanliang Meng and Wenjun Yang (1:41.025) and Russians Sergey Ulegin and Alexander Kostoglod (1:41.282) waged a pitched battle in the final metres, with the Chinese crew holding on for gold.
Germans Christian Gille and Thomasz Wylenzek (1:41.964) took the bronze.
The Canadians (1:42.450) put in a valiant effort that ended with Russell, from Dartmouth, N.S., clutching his chest and gasping for air just beyond the finish line. Race officials picked him up in a rubber dinghy and took him to the shore.
"We really seized the moment and gave it our all," said Beauchesne-Sevigny of Trois-Rivieres, Que. "To come through like that is really good. I thought we had it. I thought we had a medal."