Brazil’s Isaquias Queiroz dos Santos fought back tears as he talked of the emotions behind his Olympic gold medal win in the men’s C1 1000 in Tokyo on Saturday, and of the coach who had done so much to prepare him for 2021 but who tragically did not live to see the moment.

There was so much riding on Saturday’s race for dos Santos; the pressure of trying to become Brazil’s first canoe sprint Olympic champion, of trying to improve on the three minor medals he won in Rio, but mostly his desire to win for his former coach, Jesus Morlan.

Morlan was the Spanish coach who guided dos Santos through the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the Rio Olympics. In 2018 he was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and died at the end of the year.

“I still can’t believe it, but it has always been my dream after Rio to come here and win a gold medal,” dos Santos said.

“The last five years have been really hard, especially after the passing of my coach Jesus Morlan, so we had to overcome this and work even harder to win a medal.”

While Morlan was not there, his spirit certainly was. Before he died he sat down and mapped out a training plan for dos Santos to follow up to the Olympics. The Brazilian stuck to it rigorously, and now he has a gold medal.

Dos Santos was also spurred on by a message he received before the final from Morlan’s daughter, urging him to do the family proud. It was the extra incentive he needed over the closing stages of a race he had attacked bravely from the start.

Earlier in the week dos Santos and his new C2 1000 partner, Jacky Nascimento Godmann, finished fourth in a final in which they were hoping to medal. While they were disappointed initially, dos Santos said it was a result they could be proud of. It also spurred him to go even harder on Saturday.

“We knew it was always going to be a tough fight, we knew that Cuba, China and Germany had tough boats in the C2,” he said.

“We are happy with the fourth place, but of course we wanted more. And we only had four months to prepare for here.”

China’s Hao Liu won the silver, while Moldova’s Serghei Tarnovschi won the bronze. In Rio Tarnovschi also won the bronze, only to have it removed after a positive drug test.

Pics by Bence Vekassy

Brazil Isaquias dos santos Tokyo Olympics

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