More than 4 centuries ago, king Philip II from Spain said, after losing most part of his Army sinked at the Channel: "I sent my boats to fight against men, not against the elements". Looks like we may think the same today after an awful final day at Poznan pre-olympic regatta. Weather conditions in a very cold and windy day made the Poznan's course look like a canoeing hell on earth.
Far from patriotic feelings (I'm writing these lines from Spain) we can say yes, most of the winners were the best times of the previous heats (also raced in very bad conditions). But it's also true that it's not fair at all that all the paddlers (from the top stars to the most modest) come to these venues to demonstrate their hard work of the last months or even years. And the place for that, to fight close for a passport to the Olympic Games, didn't have the minimum conditions. We all have very clear that if this has been football, the match would have been delayed, for sure. Today we have seen first line paddlers falling in the water at half race. Not to talk about the K1 Men 200 metres final. It was a miracle to have the nine paddlers at the finish line, after a messy paddle for 36 seconds (at the image, Petter Öström suffering the waves on his chest). The front images of the final taken from the cameras at the back end of the course are absolutely amazing. And the side shootings, with prows going up and down, sinking and then jumping more than ten inches out of the water... Gentlemen of the ICF, if we want to achieve the respect of the olympic movement and the press media in general, we shall start respecting ourselves.
Well, once the reflexion is made, at a competitive level it was definitely clear that it wasn't Spain's day at all. Already in the first final, Francisco Cubelos couldn't get a good rythm at the K1 1.000 to seize his usual final boost and was actually out of the race for the olympic quota places from the first half of the race. French Cirylle Carré and Italian Maximilian Benassi went along ahead and finally got the two places for London by managing to get back the final attack of Daniel Pauman (HUN). As we will see later, Cubelos will remain until tomorrow Friday morning expecting the resolution of the ICF about the K1 quota, as Portugal and Russia got the two K2 olympic berths and that means a move in the K1 places those countries already got.
In K1 Women 500, Ainara Portela made a solid race from lane 1. She already got difficult fighting for the berths, which finally went to Kachalova (RUS) and Mira
Verås Larsen (NOR), who left out the local favourite Karolina
Spain had all the hopes on the K2 200 of Beijing Olympic Champions Craviotto and Pérez Rial. And they were in their way not to dissapoint, leading at half race together with the Russians when, unexpectedly, drama apperared and Craviotto slipped on the seat and almost fell in, which made them lose the compass and ended up in last place of the race. The Russians Postrygay and Dyachenko exploeded in joy crossing the finish line and winning the quota place for his country.
As we already said, Portugal got the other K2 berth, the one for 1.000 metres. The Spanish Hernanz and Cosgaya where in lane 5 with the best time of Day 1, but the clod wind, as they admitted after the race, didn't let them make a proper warm up and then the feelings were not good. They were finally fourth, not far from the Portuguese Fernando Pimenta and Emanuel Silva, winners, with the Czechs, who had a great final push, seconds and Slovaks Leban and Kuk thirds.
C2 1.000 barely had colour but the white and red from Poland. Tha Spanish Bouza and Fernández didn't manage to fight for the first places at any moment, but neither did the rest of contestants, because Grzybowski and Kaczor (POL) already got one boat ahead at the first third of the race and slowly were making a bigger gap to finish in victory with 3 seconds over the rest of rivals, despite stop paddling 10 metres before to thank the crowd for the support. Not that comfortable, but easy too, was Sebastian Brendl victory at the C1 1.000. The world class German had to get his Olympic berth at this qualifier after breaking his paddle during the race at last year's World Champs in Szeged. Second place and second quota place went to Roumanian Josef Chirila.
In K2 Women 500, the same feelings from Spanish Beatriz Manchón and Jana Smidakova. They showed a powerful stroke for the first half of the race, but finally were run out of boost and lost against most of their rivals, being first and winning the place for London the Swedish Nordlow and Johansson. At this race, The Ukranians Vasilevska and Rimkevich, on lane 6 wuth the third best time, fell in with just 100 metres to go due to the heavy waves.
It was only left for the Spanish interests the K1 200, this time with Saúl Craviotto on his own. Two quota places on play at the worst of the scenes. And watching the race live, all Spain jumped off the couch thinking that Saúl Craviotto was second after the Belgian Richard Maxim and he got the berth. But then, oh surprise! He was third and the photo finish showed that the buoys foolled us and the line was actually far before than we thought, so Lithuanian Balciunas got it by just 24 thousands of a second. So, as it happened to Cubelos, he shlould wait for the ICF decision on the K1 quota places. At our video channel (www.youtube.com/user/EliteKayak)
you can check the video and judge by yourselves.