Pimenta determined to make impact in front of home crowd

In the blink of an eye during the final of the men’s K1 1000 in Rio Portugal’s Fernando Pimenta felt his Olympic medal chances slip away.

Four years after the euphoria of winning Portugal’s first ever sprint canoe Olympic medal, a silver with Emanuel Silva in the K2 1000, he had arrived in Brazil feeling on top of the world. 

“At the Olympic Games in Rio I had a good performance, I was in my best shape ever,” Pimenta said this week.

“I wanted something more, but unfortunately I was affected by some plants during the final which undermined my competition.”

Sport can be cruel sometimes, but his fifth in the final, added to the sixth placing he and his teammates achieved in the K4 1000, amounted to a pretty reasonable week out for the Portuguese 27-year-old.

The results have made him hungry, and his journey to satisfy that hunger begins this weekend on his home course of Montemor-o-Velho, Portugal.

The ICF Sprint Canoe World Cup 1 signals the start of the new Olympic cycle, and Pimenta is primed to start with a rush.

“No doubt it is very good and very important to start the new Olympic cycle in the best way,” he said. 

“Competing in Portugal in the first World Cup can help you get this good start. I hope it is an excellent sporting event for Portugal.

“We have a good generation of athletes, some of them are still very young. I hope Portuguese Canoeing continues to grow and to gain more and more space in Portuguese sport. 

“I also hope that the next generations will make the most of everything that has been achieved.”

Pimenta has not spent too much time reflecting on what might have been in Rio. He has taken what happened, and used it to make himself a much more rounded athlete.

“My experience in Rio helped me to grow more and to be stronger psychologically,” Pimento said.

“After the unpleasant situation during Final A, I learned that there are situations and factors that we can not control and we have to be prepared for everything. 

“In the short term I want to achieve excellent results in international competitions (preferably with medals), continue to improve and grow as a person and an athlete. 

“In the long run I want to be able to be present in Tokyo 2020, to be in the fight for the medals and to be the best kayaking athlete of all time in Portugal.”

The ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup 1 begins on Friday, and runs through until Sunday. It has attracted hundreds of athletes from 27 countries, including Olympic gold medallists and World Champions.

Pic by Balint Vekassy

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