Haneda breaks through for Asia's first Slalom medal

Four years out from the Olympics coming to his country, Japan’s Takuya Haneda has won a bronze medal, Asia’s first canoe slalom medal, in the men’s C1 in Rio.

29-year-old Haneda, who has trained out of Slovakia since he was 18-years-old, finished more than three seconds behind French gold medallist, Denis Gargaud Chanut, but less than a second behind silver medallist Matej Benus of Slovakia.

“It’s fantastic, the first medal for Asia, and for Japan so I’m very proud,” Haneda said.

“Of course I was nervous, this is the Olympics, but after the semi and before the final, I didn’t think about anything, I just wanted to go out and do my best.”

Haneda is in no doubt how important his move to Slovakia has been, and even though there will be plenty of focus on him ahead of the 2020 Olympics, he’s wary of changing anything.

“Without the move to Slovakia it would have been impossible to get this result,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to a home Olympics, but I really want nothing to change. I will be in Slovakia, I will continue training like I did today.”

Haneda has been steadily building up towards an Olympic medal, but very few predicted he would finish in the top three in Rio.

He failed to make the final in Beijing, finishing 14th, but then finished seventh in London four years ago.

He qualified fifth fastest for the final, and then executed a clean run to put himself into the silver medal position behind Benus.

But former world champion Gargaud Chanut was in career best form, smashing the rest of the field to carry on the French dominance of the C1 after the three gold medals of slalom legend, Tony Estanguet.

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