Dawson books another Olympic kayaking spot

A single paddle stroke ended Mike Dawson’s canoe slalom world championship ambitions in London overnight, although he managed to qualify New Zealand’s second spot at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Dawson finished 28th in the semifinal, ruing a slip between the 12th and 13th gates at the tough Lee Valley whitewater course which ruined his hopes of making the top-10 final.
Like his compatriot Luuka Jones, however, he still did enough to finish in the top-15 nationals and book a likely second appearance at Olympic level next year.
“Our sport’s pretty difficult – when you make a mistake at the top, it usually all falls apart,” Dawson said. “I made a big mistake in the middle that cost me so much time but I was really stoked to be able to hold the rest of the run together and keep my head in the game. I didn’t really come here for the Olympic spot – I came here to try and get on the podium.  It was going super-well but unfortunately when you make a mistake like that, the podium’s out of reach but we still managed to get an Olympic spot which is a bonus.”
Dawson’s time was 100.29secs, which included a 2sec penalty at the 16th gate.  It was a far cry from his brilliant qualifying run which he topped, earning the right to start last in the semifinal.
“There’s nothing quite like sitting up at the top by yourself – it’s a really pure moment and it’s really peaceful up there.  To race down knowing you’ve got all the guys waiting to see what you do… it’s probably the only way you can simulate the Olympic Games.”
Young star Jiri Prskavec completed a notable K1 double for the Czech Republic, winning the men’s final and adding to Katerina Kudejova’s victory in the women’s final on Saturday.
Poland’s Mateusz Polaczyk was second, while another rising star, United States paddler Michal Smolen, was third.
Dawson will now take a break from slalom, competing in the adidas Sickline world extreme championships in Austria next month, before heading home to start training towards Rio.
He’ll be pushed by a number of young paddlers, including Alexandra’s Finn Butcher who narrowly missed a semifinal spot as well.
“Slalom New Zealand is in a really wicked spot – we’ve got so many young athletes coming through and we’ve got Luuka who had a really great race and was really unlucky to miss out on the final.  I think we’ll do quite well next year at the Olympics.”

Mike Dawson on his way to 28th in the semifinals of the canoe slalom world championships in London overnight.  Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services
Mike Dawson on his way to 28th in the semifinals of the canoe slalom world championships in London overnight. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services
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