It’s Day 2 of the Olympic canoe sprint regatta at Eton Dorney today and Britain’s best women’s K1 and K2 are on the 500m course today – Rachel Cawthorn going in singles and Abby Edmonds and Louisa Sawers in doubles.
Cawthorn won her heat but qualification for the semi-final was a given, barring a bolt of lightning or some other act of God destroying her boat mid-race – there were six paddlers in her heat and six qualified for the semi-final, a situation that some in the crowd found irritating.
Royal Canoe Club member Alex Kew, writing on Twitter, vented frustration about the sight of heats where everyone qualifies for the semi-final: “What on earth is the point of having a kayak heat where 6 boats start and 6 boats progress through? Absolutely ridiculous.”
Writing on his Ultimate Kayaks website, multiple Olympian Ivan Lawler added his weight to the issue: “It turns out that it is actually impossible not to qualify for the semi finals in this event even if you stop paddling.”
Lawler said the sight of athletes not going flat out demeaned the sport.
Referring to the C1 event yesterday, which had a similar issue in that heats didn’t have enough people in, he said: “Seriously though….there were 17 contenders for the 16 semi final places, to fail to qualify you had to be slower than 4.39, over 40 seconds slower than the fastest athletes who were not exactly giving it their all anyway!
“The heats and indeed the semi finals of this event were an embarrassment to our sport. By badminton or 1500m running rules most of the contestants should have been banned from the Games for a lack of effort in the heats.”
GB Canoeing’s official Twitter feed said: “First 6 go through & only 6 in heat so Rachel’s safe but the crowd want to see a win.”
Cawthorn, like Adam Van Koeverden in the Men’s K1 1,000m yesterday, went out hard and won her heat comfortably – prompting a huge roar from the capacity crowd.