19 Aug 2016
Heath and Schofield upgrade London 2012 bronze
Loughborough University graduates Liam Heath and Jon Schofield went one better than their London 2012 exploits by winning Rio 2016 Olympic Games silver in the men’s K2 200m canoe sprint at the Lagoa Stadium.
In the shadow of Christ the Redeemer, the Team GB pair got their noses in front of third-placed Lithuania and stayed there until the end, facing a nervy wait until their final position was confirmed.
Spanish duo Saul Craviotto and Cristian Toro surged to victory in 32.075 seconds with London 2012 bronze medallists Heath and Schofield clocking 32.368, just 0.014 ahead of Lithuania.
Heath, who celebrated his 32nd birthday on Wednesday and has the K1 200m still to come, and Schofield’s silver opens Team GB’s account in canoe sprint in Rio and pushes Loughborough’s medal tally to seven.
“In that field no-one expects anything too much. We all went into that race knowing it’s a clean slate,” said Schofield.
“The Croatians 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.
“I just lost my mind [when it showed we were second]. At the last Olympics I smashed the paddles in half, but I was reminded before this race that they’re a bit too expensive to do that again.
“It was a really clean race; we’ve really worked on lowering our stroke-rate and getting the most out of each one. We knew we just had to be calm and let it happen. We’ve got a lot stronger since the last Olympics and the rest of the world has as well.”
His fellow Loughborough alumnus Heath added:
“Since London its taken focus in the gym, we’ve got our diet under control a little bit as well and kept in touch with the rest of the world.
“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.
“We saw the Spanish slightly ahead and our race was on the other side of the course, so we gave it everything we’ve got. We crossed the line and everyone else crossed the line, so we were looking around to see where we came.”
Loughborough University graduate Lawrence Fanous made history as he became the first Jordanian to compete in the Olympic triathlon. Still living and training in Loughborough and coached by Loughborough University triathlon coach Gavin Smith, Fanous finished 46th, a great effort on a sweltering day in Rio de Janeiro.
Coming out of the swim 41st, Fanous put together a solid bike and run, and crossed the lined with a Jordanian flag held proudly above his head.
“Physically it wasn't my day today but I got what I came for - the chance to call myself an 'Olympian'!
“I was realistic about what today was about, being the first person to represent Jordan in the beautiful sport that is triathlon in the Olympics and the second ever Arab. It was also about helping to inspire others to do what I have done and better in the future - whether Arab or not! But I’m definitely looking for more Arab and Jordanian athletes to become active and get involved.
“Thank you everyone who has supported me to this point.”
On the track, Adam Gemili missed out on a medal by three thousandths of a second as he finished fourth in the Olympic 200m final. Running from lane two, Gemili ran really well off the bend and finished strongly to cross the line in 20.12 the same time as bronze medallist Christophe Lemaitre.
As expected Usain Bolt won his third straight Olympic 200m title, with a photo finish needed to separate Lemaitre, Gemili and Churandy Martina who finished fifth.
A crest-fallen Gemili commented post-race:
“I’m just heartbroken. I’ve put so much into that run and to get so close is just heart-breaking. I’m absolutely gutted.
“It’s been a fantastic season and I’ve had such amazing support from everyone in the UK and around the world, so I want to say thank you very much to them – it means a lot.
“This is the fun bit, competing at the championships. We have a big year next year with London and I can’t wait to get out there and put this right, as I’m gutted, so gutted. Fourth place is the worst place you can be and in the same time as well; it’s heart-breaking.”
Lynsey Sharp ran a brilliant race in her 800m semi-final to finish second behind Caster Semenya and bag one of the two automatic qualifying spots for Saturday night’s final.
Sitting right behind the leader as they passed the bell in 57.65, the Scot ran a smart race and fought hard all the way down the home straight to hold off a couple of fast finishers and secure second place.
Clocking 1.58.65, exactly half a second behind South African Semenya, Sharp said:
“I’m more relieved – I didn’t really believe it until I saw it up on the screen, so I’m happy to get that one out of the way and I know I can be competitive in the final, but the hardest task was getting there.
“I’ve just been so looking forward to getting that capital Q next to my name! I live for this stuff and to get to the final is a massive relief, but this is really where it all starts.”
Harry Aikines-Aryeetey ran a great second leg to help Team GB qualify for the 4x100m relay final. Despite being just outside of the top three automatic spots, the team’s 38.06 was quick enough to take a fastest losers spot and running from the very difficult lane one was an impressive run.
Of the team’s effort the former Loughborough student said:
“We are at the Olympics, we are excited and having fun. We’ve come together with a very strong squad so it’s about moving forward and taking it on.”
In the women’s equivalent Loughborough based Asha Philip ran a good lead off leg to set Team GB on their way to finishing second and securing a good lane draw for the final. In the end the team were second in 41.93, just 0.14 behind an exceptional Jamaican quartet, meaning they’ll be in the mix for a medal on Friday night.
Post-race Asha Philip said:
“We’ve run another good time under 42 seconds and that’s put us in a good position for the final - we’re happy with that.”