EOIN RHEINISCH’S OLYMPIC dream was swept away with the current in the semi-finals of the men’s K1 kayaking on Wednesday afternoon.
With only the 10 fastest times progressing to the medal final, Rheinisch missed a gate and ended up with a costly 50-point time penalty. He finished in 14th place with a time of 153.98, well outside the qualifying pace.
“I’m devastated. I’m absolutely devastated,” he told TheScore.ie afterwards.
It was a disappointing afternoon for the Kildare native, tipped up as a contender for a podium place after his agonizing near miss in Beijing four years ago.
Then, Rheinisch was in the gold medal position with just three men to go only to see each of his rivals go faster and bump him down to fourth.
An excellent first run in Sunday’s qualifying heats sent him through to this afternoon’s semi-final in Lee Valley and he started his run on track for a place in the final.
Travelling well, Rheinisch trailed pace-setter Benjamin Boukpeti by just 1.86 seconds at the second split before an attempted spin move ended in disaster.
The transition between gates 18 and 19 was always going to be one of the trickiest on the course and as Rheinisch spun to attack, his kayak got caught in a current and dragged out of position.
“I started the run to have a measured performance. That was always the strategy,” he told Will Downing.
“I didn’t feel like there was a need to take any major risks at this step of the competition. I think that’s just experience looking back at the last few Olympic Games. People tend to make small errors that they wouldn’t normally make under pressure.
I got to that last move and when I went to turn to the right to cross the wave that you have to take to the second-last upstream, the back of the boat touched the bottom and I couldn’t finish the turn. It just sent me straight on and I just got washed away, didn’t catch the wave and before I knew it was through the next downstream which is an automatic 50-second penalty. It’s game over. Absolutely game over.
He added: “I can honestly say that the nerves or anything like that didn’t get to me. I’m as seasoned a veteran as you can be at this level. This is my third Olympics.
“I was so far away from the bank when I did the turn that to touch the bottom was just shock, pure shock. It was over within an instant.”
Peter Kauzer of Slovenia set the fastest time in 96.02 seconds. The final begins at 3.15pm.