EOIN RHEINISCH TOOK the first step to overcoming his Bejing heartbreak with an excellent start in the heats of the men’s K1 slalom this afternoon.
Rheinisch was one of Ireland’s top performers four years ago when he was cruelly denied a kayaking medal in the closing stages, finishing fourth, and he booked his place in the London semi-finals at Lee Valley today.
The Kildare native’s first run was enough to secure a place in the top 15 and Wednesday’s semi-finals. Rheinisch’s time of 91.97 was later improved to 89.97 after an erroneous penalty was rescinded by the judges.
His second run of 90.72 was marginally slower but that original effort was good enough for 12th place overall. Germany’s Hannes Aigner was the afternoon’s fastest qualifier in 83.49 seconds.
“It’s nice to be stress-free and through on the first run,” Rheinisch told Will Downing afterwards.
“I knew the first run was probably good enough so I feel relieved and lucky that that was the case this time around. It’s always nice to go up into your second run not feeling that immense pressure that you haven’t done it in your first run.”
When you know you’ve done enough in the first round, it’s always nice to have a freer run. Maybe try something, take a few more risks, sometimes that can pay off. There were definitely sections of the run that were a lot quicker than my first run but then I think I might have overdone it in some places. It’s that kind of sport that if you go a little bit over the limit, you can actually lose a lot of time.
Asked about the penalty in his first run, he added: “I wasn’t really aware of that whole thing.
“I crossed the line and looked at the scoreboard and saw the penalty. You get so close to some of these poles. I wasn’t going “Oh my God, I didn’t take a touch”. You get so close to them sometimes you don’t even know. Sometimes you’re past it and the back of the boat pops up and touches something.
That side of things is out of my hands. My coach and the team manager would check over video when you see a penalty. They may have put in an appeal or it may have just been taken off quickly, I’m not exactly sure how it happened.
Only 10 competitors will qualify for Wednesday afternoon’s final and despite today’s strong start, Rheinisch insists he won’t be taking anything for granted.
“It never feels comfortable on these big race days. I’ll just come down here and we’ll do the same preparation that we did for today — look at the course with the coach, come up with a plan of action and hopefully it’s enough to get through to the finals.”