Great Britain’s Adam Burgess and Kimberley Woods both made strong starts to their Olympic Games campaign, powering into their respective semi-finals on day one of the Tokyo 2020 canoe slalom event.
Both making their Olympic debuts at the Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre in Tokyo, Japan, the duo both made their mark on the heats.
Adam Burgess got the action underway for the British team, putting two impressive performances down in the men’s C1 on what was a tricky course, qualifying through to the next round in third place.
The Stafford and Stone athlete posted a clean and quick first run time of 99.82 to put him in fourth place, before delivering an even quicker time 99.64 in his second delivery, despite a touch on gate seven, using his experience of the first run to finesse his performance.
Racing the format of the 15 athletes with the fastest times from two runs making the semi-finals, Adam went into his second heat safe in the knowledge he had already secured his spot in Monday’s semi-finals.
Speaking at the end of day one, Adam said:
I feel really good after those heats. It’s great to kick off my Olympic campaign in this way. I have been so nervous in the last 24 hours or so. It is something we try to embrace, I am always better when I do feel a little more up against it. It was really solid today. I am happy.– Adam Burgess
“Only a few go out in the heats today but it is certainly no gimme. This course is super hard and it would’ve been very easy to have just one tiny mistake and miss out.
“I think more of the same tomorrow. I like it when it is hard, it gives me a chance to be precise and it suits my style.
“I chatted to Craig (Morris) my coach. I knew I was in the next round before my run, but I wanted to go faster, I wanted to put pressure on myself here today so I am used to it because there are no second chances now.
“Everything counts tomorrow.”
In the women’s K1, Kimberley Woods too made a fantastic start to her first Olympic Games, finishing ninth in the heats to establish her place in Tuesday’s semi-finals amongst a stacked field of athletes.
Requiring a top 24 finish, the Rugby Canoe Club athlete clipped the troublesome gate 14 on her first run, finishing in 109.63, before returning two hours later to go two seconds quicker, despite picking up an extra touch on her route down the course.
Also knowing she had already done enough to progress, Kimberley was composed and powerful in her second performance and was extremely pleased with how she competed on the Tokyo waters.
Speaking after her second run Kimberley said:
“It’s obviously been a little different to what it would have been in normal times, but I’m so happy to be wearing the TeamGB logo on my chest and officially call myself an Olympian.
“I felt my normal race nerves this morning. It actually felt quite similar to a normal race. Without the crowd and everything, the commentators really got the atmosphere up and it felt really normal.
“My arms definitely more nervous than my head, particularly at the end of the run. I held it together and I am very happy with my second run.
I didn’t feel the expectation today. I felt a lot of support and everyone behind me back at home at home. Those I have spoken to are super proud of me and I am proud of myself for even getting here.– Kimberley Woods
“It’s a very challenging course. Definitely on a finals level. It has definitely taken a lot of people by surprise but hard courses do suit me. I didn’t quite get it there today but I am definitely warming into it.
“I feel really good about the next stage. I am super happy to be here and soak the atmosphere up. Tomorrow I am going to get a lot of rest in and support my teammate Adam Burgess in those semi-finals.
“I am so looking forward to getting out and racing those semi-finals. I am going to learn from today.”
Adam will return to the Kasai Canoe Slalom course from 6am UK time on Monday morning as he lines up in the C1 men’s semi-final, whilst Kimberley will have a day’s rest in between before returning to action in the women’s K1 semi-final on Tuesday.
Adam Burgess (Stafford & Stone) - C1 Men Heat 1 - 99.82; Heat 2 - 99.64 - qualifies to the semi-finals in 3rd place
Kimberley Woods (Rugby) - K1 Women Heat 1 - 109.63; Heat 2 - 107.82 - qualifies to the semi-finals in 9th place
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Photos from Garry Bowden