DE GENNARO (ITA) coasts through K1 heats as missed gate costs DELFOUR (AUS)

RIO DE JANEIRO - Giovanni DE GENNARO (ITA) posted the fastest time in the men's K1 heats as top-ranked paddler Lucien DELFOUR (AUS) protested a missed gate which cost him a semifinal spot in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games canoe slalom competition

On a wind-affected first day of canoe slalom action at Whitewater Stadium on Sunday, DELFOUR was already under pressure after slipping to 13th place in the first round. And the Australian was effectively dumped out of the Olympic Games when handed a 50-second time penalty for missing gate 20 near the end of his second run.

Improved second-run times from two of the paddlers below him in the standings meant DELFOUR's best time was one second short of the 15th place needed to qualify.

"I was shocked to see that 50-second penalty on the scoreboard. I actually didn't know where it came from at all," DELFOUR said. "My head was in the gate for sure. I noticed on the cameras it looks like I'm not in the gate because I tilt my head before I crossed. Maybe it appears a little bit dodgy but like I said, I'm 100% sure I crossed the gate."

DE GENNARO endured no such difficulties as he laid down a clean first run in 86.85 seconds, the fastest time posted by any paddler over both heats.

"I'm really pleased because in the first round I did really well," DE GENNARO, the world No.17, said. "I wasn't that happy about the last part to the second round but it's still good to start with a good rhythm from the beginning."

Joseph CLARKE (GBR) recovered from a missed gate of his own in his first run to qualify for the semifinal in second position, just one-tenth of a second behind DE GENNARO.

In the men's C1 heats on Sunday, Sideris TASIADIS (GER) went all out in his second run, shaving over eight seconds off his first time to qualify in top position in 92.23 seconds.

Denis GARGAUD CHANUT (FRA) was more than a second behind the German in second place and said adapting to the strong winds which forced a one-hour delay to the start of competition had proved key.

"I had to learn to improvise because of the wind," GARGAUD CHANUT said. "We didn't know if we would race at first and then we didn't know if there would be a second run. I had to adapt myself to the situation and it was finally not so bad given the circumstances."

Beijing 2008 Olympic Games silver medallist David FLORENCE (GBR) had topped the standings after the first round and ultimately qualified in third position despite skipping his second run along the 250-metre course in order to conserve energy.

Monday's action

FLORENCE will return to the whitewater in the C2 heats with Richard HOUNSLOW (GBR) on Monday, when Gauthier KLAUSS (FRA) and Matthieu PECHE (FRA) will start in pole position.

The women's K1 also begins on Monday, with world No.1 and London 2012 silver medallist Jessica FOX (AUS) hoping to steer clear of the problems which beset her compatriot DELFOUR on Sunday.

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