|The great Duisburg venue (click on the image for full size)|
But out of all the disciplines and distances, in Elite Kayak we have a special predilection on the K1 1.000 Men, where actually meet all those considered like “the big ones”. And not many of them usually miss the competitions, always with at least 5 or 6 first line paddlers at the start. This time, at Duisburg, we had the privilege to see a race that could be not much different from the one we will see at London Games.
Thinking about the 8 lanes that will be racing at Eton Dorney venue, let’s have a look at the first seven kayaks at Duisburg’s final: Yurenia, van Koeverden, Verås Larsen, Gustafsson, Stewart, Hoff, and Brabants. What else can we expect? Just think about the potential “eighth” that day, who should come out of Poulsen (winner at Poznan last week), Carré, Benassi, Cubelos, Tomicevic, Pimenta... so it’s easy to say that London will show a very high level from the qualifying heats. And get fro granted that if one of the favourites relax a bit, he’s got many chances of failure and not going through the final.
On Saturday, from the very start, it was Murray Stewart, who took the spot from Ken Wallace at Australian trials, the one who didn’t want to give a chance to their rivals, setting a manic pace that kept him in first position until the 600 metres. At his left, van Koeverden and Gustafsson seemed to be alert in a second line, while Hoff and Brabants looked like keeping a bullet for the end further behind. But the one who looked like following a swiss clock was Yurenia, racing at lane 9 and being very accurate with his time at every buoy, to the point that it seemed not needing to increase his frequency when he catched the three on the lead with 300 metres to go, just when Stewart started to pay for the big effort he made at the start. Tha race was brilliant during the 30 seconds that the four prows were in line on the mirror of Duisburg. Then we could all see that Yurenia was not a firework, he was slowly getting his prow centimetres ahead van Koeverden, the only one who resisted the very high rhythm. Stewart was falling down and being surpassed by a meteoric Verås Larsen, who also took third place from Gustafsson. The last 200 metres of the Norwegian were just brilliant and was about to reach the two firsts, but Yurenia was already on the line, where he beated van Koeverden by just half a metre. Verås Larsen took bronze, while Gustafsson and Stewart fell down the podium and Hoff and Brabants were 6th and 7th, showing that they had no bullet and that the race was this time too demanding for them. Brabants arrived in a great time of 3:31, but far from the 3:26 that set the three on the podium, world class time, for a world class final. The last two positions were for the two guests at this party, the Slovenian Zakrajsek and the German Fröse.
After this amazing race, not only the spectators were delighted, but also the main characters on scene were optimistic looking to the future, making us think that the show was just about to start. Adam van Koeverden graphically showed in Twitter with his fingers that he was “this close” at this World Cup, saying that he’s a step closer to his target this year. Verås Larsen also was happy with his performance, more thinking that his planning is 100% focused in August (that’s the good thing of almost having no competence at Norwegian trials). And Brabants, always modest, cheered up his rivals without talking about the great effort he made in semifinals to beat Paul Wycherley and, this way, achieving the British nomination for the Olympic Games.
If you still haven’t seen the race, you can watch it at this link. You can also enjoy it, with some of the other finals, at our video channel Elite Kayak TV.