FOX (AUS) second as women's top two paddlers survive scare in heats

RIO DE JANEIRO - The top two women paddlers in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games canoe slalom competition both survived early scares to qualify for the K1 semifinals but there was heartbreak for promising local favourite Ana SATILA (BRA), who crashed out after two below-par runs at Whitewater Stadium on Monday.

The two biggest names struggled in the first round of the heats, with 2015 world champion Jessica FOX (AUS) clipping a pole in a sluggish run and London 2012 bronze medallist Maialen CHOURRAUT (ESP) missing gate 20 entirely. The Spaniard hit two gates on a nervous second run but was fast enough over the water to qualify in 11th position, while FOX stepped up a gear to finish second behind surprise leader Stefanie HORN (ITA).

"I made a big mistake in my first run so I knew I had to put down a good second run to qualify," said FOX, who took the K1 silver ahead of CHOURRAUT at London 2012. "I was on the bubble, which means I could have been in the semi or out.

"I was actually a bit uncertain before my (second run) start if I was qualified. I was trying to do the maths to see if I was well enough placed or not to be in the top 15, and in the end I thought I should stop thinking about that and just focus on my run."

SATILA sits only one place behind HORN at No.18 in the International Canoe Federation (ICF) world rankings but her recent good form evaporated on Monday, the 20-year-old following CHOURRAUT's route around gate 20 when under pressure on the all-important second run.

"When I finished the end of the round I didn't know that I hadn't qualified and when I saw that I was very sad," an emotional SATILA said afterwards. "But I am very happy to be here and intend to be at the next Olympic Games."

In the men's C2, Slovakian cousins Ladislav SKANTAR and Peter SKANTAR (SVK) clocked the fastest time of the heats in their first run to qualify ahead of Olympic debutants Gauthier KLAUSS and Matthieu PECHE (FRA).

"It was quite good because it was very hard to make the first run in the Olympic Games," PECHE said. "It is a big race so I think we made a good one. The second run was better so we'll see for the next few days and the semifinals."

It was business as usual for David FLORENCE and Richard HOUNSLOW (GBR) as the London 2012 silver medallists laid down a clean first and only run of the day to qualify in third place.

Tuesday's action

The men's C1 competition will run to a conclusion on Tuesday with FLORENCE hoping to upgrade the silver medal he won in the individual event at Beijing 2008. The 34-year-old is the only paddler to have claimed Olympic Games medals in separate canoe slalom disciplines and will exit the C1 starting gate last after recording the fastest time in qualifying in his only run in the heats on Sunday.

FLORENCE is yet to incur a penalty on either of his two qualifying runs so far at Rio 2016.

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