Swashbuckling Czechs roll out of medal contention

For 22 gates the enthusiastic Rio crowd had whooped and hollered in appreciation as the Czech Republic C2 team of Marek Sindler and Jonas Kaspar sizzled down the course at breakneck speed.

All the time comparisons were looking good. Sindler and Kaspar were ahead of the clock, and looked certain to finish on the podium, possibly with a gold.

But then it all went badly wrong. Pivoting out of gate 22, and looking to snatch every available millisecond they could, the canoe went over. Upside down.

The crowd gasped, realising a likely medal had gone wanting.

I just can’t describe it,” Kaspar said.

“We pushed really hard for this run, and I don’t know what I was thinking. I was thinking what happened, it was like a nightmare for me.

“It’s not only four years, it’s all our lives heading into this race. It’s probably the top of our career, the peak of our career.”

Kaspar and Sindler are coached by C2 legend and two-time Olympic medallist, OndrejStepanek. They came to Rio hoping to make an impact in what is likely to be the last appearance of the C2 at the Olympics.

“It’s possible this will be the last chance for us,”Kaspar said.

“We were very good in the semi-finals, and we felt great at the start and at the top part of the course, but then we made a horrible mistake on the last upstream gate and that was the end of our chances.

“I wasn’t thinking about what the commentator was saying, I was just trying to focus on the race, so I didn’t know what he was saying or what our place was.”

Despite the overwhelming sense of disappointment, and the likely demise of the C2,Kaspar said he expects both he and Sindler will continue on.

“I don’t feel like I’m ready to retire, and I don’t think Marek does either,” he said.

“We just have to go out and try and win our races.”

Slovakia’s Ladislav and Peter Skantar won the C2 gold, ahead of Great Britain’s David Florence and Richard Hounslow, with Frenchman Gauthier Klauss and MatthieuPeche taking the bronze.

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