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Olympic Paddling Medal Hopes Evaporate, But Successful Games Nonetheless
While the lack of a podium finish was disappointing for the US team, with neither the slalom team or sprint team advancing to the finals, executive director Joe Jacobi is looking ahead to take away positives.
Like the athletes feel, I know we were capable of better performances in London," he says. "There are a lot of lessons to learn from this Olympics and we have a lot of work to do. Looking ahead, Im focusing on USA Canoe/Kayaks growth as an organization, not just at the elite level but how we engage and activate at the base of the sport. How we affect change at the lower parts of the performance pyramid will make the small differences at the top. The gap between advancing from qualification to semi-finals, semi-finals to finals, and finals to medals are ultimately small steps but they are very connected.
PL Spotlight: Carrie Johnson
While Johnson started strong in her K1 500m Semifinal -- she was the first to reach the 200-meter mark and the third to hit 250 meters -- she faded down the stretch and was unable to advance, passed by three additional paddlers. Johnson's time was 0.508 seconds from qualifying for the B Final, +2.396 seconds behind the Semifinal's first place finisher Josefa Idem of Italy...
While Johnson also failed to reach the final in the Women's 200m, teammate Tim Hornsby (Atlanta, Ga.) picked up the slack by advancing to the B-finals, settling for 15th overall.
"I had a really good start, I just wasn't able to keep it going the whole way, says Jophnson of her 500m performance. It's disappointing not to advance, but I can walk away knowing that I put everything that I had into it. With the way the start went, I'm really looking forward to racing the 200 in a couple days. That's been the event that I've been better at this year and, personally, that I do like the best out of the two. I'm looking forward to racing that, and I think that the start that I had in this race, if I can do that again, I will set myself up well for that event."
"It felt technically pretty solid, she adds. Right now, there's just a lot of strong female paddlers right now, which is good for the sport. But it's definitely good, hard racing out there.
I think you learn something from every race that you do, she adds, adding that the 500m should help prep her for the upcoming 200m. Going into the 200 I will have had two more starts on these start gates with the starter and two more races under my belt, so I think it definitely helps."
Likewise, she says her fast start should also help. "The start is always important, but it's especially important in the 200 when you don't really have much time at all to make up for anything that happens off the start. The start is real important with that. It'll be important to get the rate up, but have a technically solid pace."
She also adds that she might be better suited for the 200. "Ever since I was young, I've been a strong sprinter, she says. Before these Games, it wasn't an Olympic event. The 200 wasn't necessarily something you focused on. I think naturally I'm better at the sprinting events than the distance events. But it's going to come down to me putting together the best race that I can."
If anyone can attest to her ability to start fast, its her coach Stein Jorgensen. Carrie had a fantastic start, he says. Her start in the heat wasn't so good, but she was first out of the blocks, first to the 200-meter mark. She's on the tough side of the course. Unfortunately, nobody from her side of the course has qualified this morning at all. That's the luck of the draw and that's racing, but she raced her heart out, she had a great race. You couldn't ask for anything more. Even when she finished, she wasn't upset."
"She's happy with her performance, he adds. With her effort level and everything, she couldn't have given anything more. Her preparation was good, the race plan was good. It's just unfortunate circumstances where she ended up. It's an outdoor sport, which makes it tough. This is the Olympics, there are people who won two World Cups that didn't make the final this morning. That's what happens."
And shell sprint into her next career after the Games as well. Immediately after she's finished competing in London, Johnson will head back to California to begin a four-year veterinary program at UC-Davis.