Liam Heath won Team GB’s 25th gold medal of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with a stunning victory in the K1 200m canoe sprint at the Lagoa Stadium.
Liam Heath has ensured that the K1 200m canoe sprint crown remains in British hands after winning the final at the Lagoa Stadium in Rio.
The men’s K1 200m was only added to the Olympic schedule four years ago, with Team GB’s Ed McKeever claiming the first title at London 2012.
Heath won the gold medal by completing the course in 35.197 seconds on 20 August.
Having teamed up with Jon Schofield for K2 200m bronze in London and silver in the same event in Rio, the 32-year old paddler from Guildford is now tied with Tim Brabants and David Florence as the most decorated British Olympic canoeist of all time with three medals.
However, Heath is the quickest of the trio to achieve the feat, with Rio 2016 just his second Olympic Games.
“I’ve got the set now after bronze in London and silver and gold here. It’s incredible. I’m over the moon,” said a jubilant Heath.
“The slight headwind made the race a bit longer so I had to keep that in mind and try to keep the pace at the end of the race,” he continued.
“I had an inkling I had won but I was just so focused on my lane and those work blocks which is your finish point, that I’d blanked everything out. I crossed the line, looked around and had an inkling I was in front but then when you finally see your name up on the board it starts to sink in a bit,” said Heath.
He praised those who had helped him achieve his win.
“It’s an absolutely incredible feeling. All the efforts of so many people behind me – my team, UK Sport, National Lottery funding, my coach, my family, my friends. They’ve all been behind me and their efforts have combined in to one moment when you cross that line and it’s pretty intense,” said Heath.
“Essentially it’s what I’ve worked for all my life. I just started coming back into the sport in 2009 after leaving it without any thought of competing again. To think that if I hadn’t come back in, I’d be missing out on this is quite scary to be honest,” he admitted.
“I came out of university twiddling my thumbs a little bit, not knowing where I wanted to go. And then 200m was announced as an Olympic discipline and I’ve always been pretty nifty over 200m. A good friend of mine from Wey Kayak Club, Paul Dimmock, got me back in a boat, gave me a programme and taught me some really key lessons about commitment and giving it everything each session. I started to see improvements and I just went for it,” explained Heath.
“I committed full time without funding initially, jumped straight in a boat with Jonny (Schofield) and at our first World Cup, we hit gold and that was an amazing achievement,” he added.
The Rio 2016 Olympics has now ended, with the Olympic flag being handed over to the next host – Tokyo in 2020.
The 2016 Paralympic Games will start in Rio on 6 September.
Team GB topped the sailing medal table after Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark wrapped up the gold medal in the 470 class.
All Mills and Clark needed to do was finish the medal race, which they did with ease, to beat the same New Zealand pair who triumphed over them in London four years ago.
Clark and Mills finished ten points clear of Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie to take Britain’s second sailing gold of the week following Giles Scott’s Finn success.
“Rio is such a challenging venue but as a British sailing team we’ve been so well prepared for it and I think that’s really helped us feel at home,” said Mills.
“I love sailing here, it offers everything for us,” she added.
Saskia Clark said: “We always knew how tricky this venue was going to be. The five different courses have five very different personalities and you can prepare for a course one day and then be moved with two hours’ notice.”
She continued: “As a team we were really well prepared for that and we really nailed it – kept our heads about us, stayed in the present during the race and never got too far ahead of ourselves until we crossed the line just now.”
Clark also revealed that Rio 2016 is her last competitive 470 race.
“I’m going to have a bit of downtime; Hannah and I are going to New York with some friends to do a sailing event, which we are excited about,” she said.
“Then I’ve got a job with a charity that’s pretty close to all our hearts – the Andrew Simpson Sailing Trust,” said the Olympic gold medallist.
Home nation Brazil helped out in Team GB’s bid to top the sailing table, winning the final gold of the day in the 49er FX to deny the Kiwis the top spot.
In that race, Britain’s Sophie Ainsworth and Charlotte Dobson sealed eighth place overall in the regatta.
49er pair Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign went into the medal race with a chance of reaching the podium, but two minor catastrophes saw them finish last in the race.
First their boat hit one of the gates.
Later they almost capsized as they went all-out to gain places in the fleet, leaving them fifth overall.
And the men’s 470 crew finished fourth at the end of the regatta which Luke Patience and Chris Grube admit was some feat, having only started sailing together eight months ago.
“I think in the short time we had available this had been a great finish,” said Patience.
“Chris and I teamed up eight months ago having both our previous partnerships end for one reason or another and our competitors have eight, ten, some of them 15 years together,” he continued.
“We are but a grain of sand in the timescale of all of is. Of course we do it for medals but what we have pulled together is just something we can walk away with our heads held high,” added Patience.
Meanwhile in the canoe sprint, Liam Heath and Jon Schofield secured another medal for Team GB.
The pair went one better than their London 2012 exploits by winning silver in the men’s K2 200m canoe sprint at the Lagoa Stadium.
In the shadow of Christ the Redeemer, Heath and Schofield got their noses in front of third place Lithuania and stayed there until the end, facing a nervy wait until their final position was shown on the big screen.
Spanish duo Saul Craviotto and Cristian Toro surged to victory, but Heath and Schofield beat several former world champion pairs to claim second spot on the podium after bronze at London 2012.
“In that field no-one expects anything too much. We all went into that race knowing it’s a clean slate,” said Schofield.
“The Hungarians have been world champions; the Serbians have been world champions. Everyone in there thought they could win a medal, but we just concentrated on our own race,” he explained.
Heath, who turned 32 on 17 August, added: “(Since London) it’s taken focus in the gym, we’ve got our diet under control a little bit as well and keeping in touch with the rest of the world.”
He continued: “All you know is that you’re in the best form possible when you go into the Games. You’ve then just got to make sure you execute what you’ve been doing in training and I think we did that.”
Rachel Cawthorn was the only other Brit to compete on Thursday, finishing seventh in the B final of the women’s K1 500m sprint.
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark just need to avoid disqualification in today’s medal race to claim gold at Rio 2016.
The Olympic final of the Women’s 470 was delayed yesterday due to a lack of wind.
The pair, who won silver in London 2012, have a 20-point advantage over the rest of the finalists.
Like their Team GB teammate, Giles Scott, Mills and Clark just have to finish the race in order to secure the gold medal.
If conditions do not improve, the gold, silver and bronze will be awarded on current standings.
The lack of wind also affected the final of the men’s 470 medal race.
Team GB’s Luke Patience and Chris Grube are currently in fifth place.
Patience said he understood why the racing had to be cancelled.
“As a team in a challenging venue we’re so kitted out and ready for long delays and comfortable in our athlete containers so it’s a very easy day watching the Olympic Games on the TV, having a snooze and eating well, ” he noted.
“It’s the nature of our sport. It was definitely the right decision to cancel the racing,” he added.
Giles Scott officially won Team GB’s second sailing medal of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with gold in the Finn class at Marina da Gloria.
Making his Olympic debut in Brazil, the 29-year old had wrapped up the title before the start of the medal race, taking in a 24-point lead which could not be overturned.
And Scott, who has won gold at the past three World Championships, confirmed his title with a second place in the medal race, ultimately finishing 32 points clear in the overall standings.
Scott’s gold brings Team GB’s fifth consecutive Olympic title in the Finn class, adding to victories for Iain Percy in 2000 and Sir Ben Ainslie between 2004 and 2012.
It also officially confirmed Team GB’s second sailing medal at Rio 2016 after Nick Dempsey had assured himself of silver ahead of the men’s RS:X medal race.
“It’s been a huge luxury because there’s not many times when you can say you’ve won an Olympic Games before the medal race,” said Scott.
“We knew coming here to Rio that the racing wasn’t going to be easy. Regardless of form, it was always going to be a hard week and it certainly was that,” admitted the sailor.
Scott said that he had “a particularly shaky start”, but “managed to pull through some good consistency” to win the class.
“I couldn’t ask for it any other way,” he said.
Iain Percy, who now is the team manager of America’s Cup challenger Artemis Racing, congratulated Scott via Twitter.
Meanwhile British 470 pair Saskia Clark and Hannah Mills will also land gold if they avoid a penalty in today’s medal race.
The pair, who won silver in London 2012, currently have a 20-point lead ahead of racing.
Hannah Mills, 28, said: “We just need to be solid and get round the course and that will do. You know how it’s going as the day goes on but you try not to let it affect you too much.”
“We really felt we could have won the gold in London (2012 Olympics). We were absolutely gutted not to,” admitted Mills.
“That’s what this four years has been about. You never say that too much because you don’t need that extra pressure. But it’s absolutely what we came here for and to have done it is insane,” she added.
In the 49er class, Alain Sign and Dylan Fletcher have moved up to fourth.
They have a ten point deficit to recover to reach the podium in Thursday’s medal race.
With a 24-point lead over his nearest rival, Giles Scott cannot be knocked off the top spot in the Finn class.
The four-time world champion’s eighth and a second in the last two outings of his qualifying series gives him an unassailable lead going into the medal race on 16 August.
Scott, 29, said reaching this stage has been emotional.
“I know what it meant to me because of the way it made me feel towards the latter stages of that final race. I just found myself welling up, getting tingles as it slowly dawned on me what I had done,” he said.
“I wouldn’t put myself down as the emotional sort but I had a little cry to myself, which I’d like to think I don’t do that often. Just the emotions that kind of end up coming out of you in that situation, you can’t really prepare yourself for. It was amazing,” he continued.
“If you had have asked me would I have won the Olympic Games before the medal race in Rio, I would have said absolutely not just because of the venue it is,” noted Scott.
“But the racing we have had this week; I have managed to sail more consistently than everybody else at the top of the fleet. It has just landed me in this brilliant situation where I’ve got the points gap I need before the medal race and it’s such a privileged situation to be in,” he said.
Scott was congratulated by three time Finn Olympic gold medallist, Sir Ben Ainslie.
Elsewhere, the women’s 470 duo of Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark are leading after an eighth and a victory.
They won silver in London 2012.
Saskia Clark said: “It was good. It was setting up for quick a big day with light winds, tricky conditions and the prospect of three races.”
“We were making a good job in the first race but unfortunately we went to the finish mark instead of the gate on the final lap so we lost a pack of five there. But we are pleased with how we bounced back with a first place in the last race of the day,” continued the 36-year-old.
“There is still a lot more sailing to go and there are a lot of opportunities and a lot more points still to go yet. We are just really focused on ourselves, keeping our heads and we will stay steady and keep knocking them in,” she added.
It was less good news for the men’s crew of Luke Patience and Chris Grube who fell to tenth after a disqualification and a 20th.
Meanwhile, windsurfer Nick Dempsey got Team GB’s sailing medal tally up and running as he officially got his hands on a second successive Olympic silver.
Dempsey, 36 , went into the men’s RS:X medal race on the Pao de Acucar course with nothing possible except finishing with silver, provided he completed it successfully, but still put in a shift to finish fourth.
The five-time Olympian enjoyed a consistent series to claim the third Olympic medal of his illustrious career after silver at London 2012 and bronze at Athens 2004 with three wins before the medal race.
Dempsey’s silver is Team GB’s first sailing medal of Rio 2016 – and also sees him become the most decorated male windsurfer at the Olympic Games.
“It is amazing (being most decorated male Olympic windsurfer), awesome, something I am incredibly proud of,” said Dempsey.
“It has been a long time, I have been working for a long time, and it is very hard to say at the top for that long. I am not sure I can do it again. I would love to if I could,” he said.
Bryony Shaw placed ninth overall after the medal race of the women’s RS:X, where she was sixth, while Nacra 17 pair Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves are eighth going into the medal race after finishing their qualifying series with two 15th-place finishes and a 12th.
Meanwhile Team GB’s rowers have finished the competition on top of the rowing medal table.
They won three golds and two silvers.
The men’s eight won their first Olympic gold for 16 years to bring the rowing events at Rio 2016 to a close at the Lagoa.
Having just watched the Team GB women’s eight win a historic first Olympic medal, the men powered home in 5:29.63 minutes to repeat their result from Sydney 2000.
European and defending Olympic champions Germany were the Brits’ closest rivals on the day but trailed throughout and ultimately finished second best in 5:30.96.
The men’s team in Rio consisted of Scott Durant, Tom Ransley, Andrew T Hodge, Matt Gotrel, Pete Reed, Paul Bennett, Matt Langridge, Will Satch and cox Phelan Hill.
Victory brought third consecutive Olympic gold medals for Reed and Hodge, who won gold in the coxless four at Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
Langridge completed his collection of Olympic men’s eight medals, having won silver in 2008 and bronze in London four years ago.
Helen Glover and Heather Stanning defended their Olympic women’s pair title to become Team GB’s first rowing gold medallists of Rio 2016.
The British pair dominated from start to finish, pulling nearly two seconds clear at the 500m point before extending their lead to four seconds at the half-way 1000m marker.
New Zealand’s Genevieve Behrent and Rebecca Scown closed the gap in the final stretch, but the Brits held on to win in 7:18.29 from the Kiwis’ 7:19.53.
The pair’s victory in London four years ago was the first Olympic gold for British women’s rowers, meaning Glover and Stanning are the first Team GB female back-to-back Olympic rowing champions.
Success quickly continued on the Lagoa for Team GB with the men’s four making it five Olympic titles in a row with Rio 2016 gold.
The British quartet of Alex Gregory, Mohammed Sbihi, George Nash and Constantine Louloudis were the only team to break six minutes in the final, leading through all three 500m checkpoints on the way to victory in 5:58.61.
World silver medallists Australia were second in 6:00.44.
Katherine Grainger is now Team GB’s most decorated female Olympian of all time.
The 40-year-old took silver in the women’s double sculls rowing final with Victoria Thornley.
It was an exciting race on the water at the Lagoa in Rio, as the pair battled it out with the Polish crew for gold.
But, it was Poland who proved stronger in the final 500 metres, stripping Team GB of their women’s double sculls title.
But, it proved to be a phenomenal silver medal for Grainger.
She arrived at Rio 2016 having won four successive medals after silvers at Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 and then gold at London 2012.
Silver at Rio 2016 means she is the first British female to medal at five Games in a row while for Thornley it was her maiden Olympic medal on her second appearance.
Speaking following her win, Grainger said: “I don’t think you ever feel like you are going to win but we were ahead and felt good and then you come down very quickly. It was certainly a dramatic race.”
“I don’t think we could have done anymore, we put every element into it and really gave it everything we had. We had to find something really big at the end there to hold onto the medal and I’m so please we did,” continued Grainger.
“I don’t think anything could eclipse that Olympic gold medal at London 2012 because of everything that was around it but this is certainly very special,” she said.
“There have of course been many, many dark days when I couldn’t see this happening so to be standing in the Rio sunshine with a medal around my neck is amazing,” said Grainger, who has this to say about competing in Tokyo 2020.
“Mum and Dad, I promise I won’t put you through it again.”
Thornley praised her teammate.
“I am so thankful to Katherine; she did everything so well in the race. It was a really great race from us and a silver medal is pretty nice I think,” said Thornley.
Meanwhile, canoeists David Florence and Richard Hounslow won Team GB’s 14th medal of Rio 2016, repeating their C2 silver medal winning performance at London 2012.
Slovakian cousins Peter and Ladislav Skantar finished just 0.43 seconds ahead of the Brits, who watched on as both the Czech and German pairs failed to beat their time.
Hounslow becomes a double Olympic medallist while Florence wins silver at his third consecutive Games – all a day after Joe Clarke’s stunning gold in the K1
Florence said: “After the disappointment a couple of days ago (in the C1) we wanted to hold together a really solid run and we did that.”
Hounslow added: “We didn’t know if it was a medal or not with still two more boats going. To come away with an Olympic medal is a fantastic achievement and we’re really proud of it
“I’m absolutely delighted and now I’m looking forward to cheering on the rest of Team GB for the rest of the Olympics.”
In the sailing, Giles Scott remains on course for the Olympic gold medal at Rio 2016 after a strong recovery from a poor start saw him retain the top spot in the men’s Finn class.
The 29-year-old from Huntingdon had a disappointing first race of the day when an uncharacteristic error saw him finish down the field in 11th position.
But, Scott demonstrated why he is the man to beat in the day’s second race as he finished first to retain the gold medal position.
Elsewhere there was a good performance from Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark in the women’s 470 as a first placed finish in the day’s first race and a sixth in the second left them third overall.
In the RS: X Men, Nick Dempsey finished fifth and eighth to retain silver medal position in the overall standings.
Meanwhile in the men’s 470, Luke Patience and Chris Grube secured finishes of fifth and sixth, leaving them sixth in the overall standings.
Joe Clarke is the first British athlete to ever take gold in the men’s K1 canoe slalom.
The 23-year-old secured Team GB’s second gold medal of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games after a faultless run and time of 88.53 seconds.
He had been third fastest in his semi-final, but his quick run meant that Slovakia’s Peter Kauzer and Jiri Prskavec of the Czech Republic were left with silver and bronze respectively.
The win makes Clarke the first British athlete to claim a medal in the event since Campbell Walsh picked up silver back at Athens 2004.
Speaking following the race, Clarke said: “I went out on that final run, laid it all on the line, put my all out there and that was enough to come away with the Olympic gold medal”.
“When I crossed the line and knew I had a bronze I was absolutely ecstatic. It got even better when that upgraded to a silver and then upgraded to a gold,” continued the gold medallist.
“Joe Clarke, Olympic Champion. Joe Clarke, Olympic Champion! It was what I went to bed dreaming about last night and what I’ve dreamed of for so many years,” he said.
“To wake up this morning thinking this is actually the finals of the Olympics and I could come away being the Olympic champion is just like wow,” continued the canoeist.
“For sure I’ve had some luck and you need a bit of luck in this sport to excel and that has come today. I don’t know what I did to deserve that but I obviously did something right along the way,” said a delighted Clarke.
Prior to his gold medal win, Clarke had taken silver in the men’s K1 event at the 2014 World Cup 5, his first senior international medal.
At the 2015 World Championships at Lee Valley, he was part of the bronze medal winning K1 men’s team.
He was selected to represent Team GB after winning the men’s K1 event at the 2015 Canoe Slalom Olympic Selection.
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