Interesting blog post on The Scotsman’s website today looking at Team GB’s slalom K1 hope David Florence and what went wrong.
Florence, who was knocked out in the semis, had been a serious medal hope for the British team. The Scotsman makes the point that he’s been on top form all year, beating all comers and, indeed, was ranked No. 1 by the International Canoe Federation. But it struggles to understand how you can be ranked No. 1 and still come nowhere.
Scratching his head, the Scotsman’s blogger wonders whether – as suggested yesterday – the love of the crowd worked against him in some way.
Florence says not. “There was no detrimental effect to my performance from the crowd support. I just didn’t put in a good enough run when I needed to. The crowd have been absolutely fantastic. To come away and say it’s the crowd’s fault that I didn’t perform, you won’t hear me say that. The support has been amazing and I’m sorry for them. For the last four years this is what I’ve wanted to achieve. It’s what every day of my life has been about. But in a sport like canoe slalom you get so used to massive highs and also massive disappointments. Any of the athletes in that field, no matter how good or how bad, has had huge disappointments and it’s a part of the sport you have to accept. I did everything I could.”
In fact, anyone who looks at what’s happened in men’s K1 over the past few Games will see what the Scotsman seems not to have done: the odd penalty here or there can indeed make the difference between hero and zero. You can be the best on paper, but one tiny brush against a pole and that’s it – you’re penalised and with fractions of seconds in it, that’s all it takes to leave you out of the medals. Three-time Olympic Champion Tony Estanguet has himself lost out through penalties – and even been a beneficiary of someone else’s error too. Such are the stakes in slalom.