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Heath and Kerr qualify for Olympic semi-finals

Liam Heath and Deborah Kerr have progressed through to the canoe sprint semi-finals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after strong performances.

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With favourable conditions for fast racing at the Sea Forest Waterway, reigning Olympic Champion Liam Heath (Wey) was first in action in the men’s K1 200m.

In a tightly contested heat 2 Liam was in third place with a time of 34.582, with the top three finishers all under the Olympic record.

With only the top two progressing directly to the semi-final, Liam produced a storming run to win his quarter-final in an Olympic best time of 33.985, the only athlete to go under 34 seconds.

Speaking after the quarter-final Liam Heath said:

“My body needed to wake up a little bit more. It was really good to get another solid run under my belt to build that confidence up and my momentum as well. I’m pretty happy with that one. 

My training has been going really well. I build a lot of confidence and drive from that and my coach and his feedback as well. Everything is going as well as it can be, so I’m confident that I am going to be able to hit it as hard as possible and that’s all you can hope for.

– Liam Heath

“That quarter-final was much more like me, more how I’ve been training, quick out the blocks, good solid middle half and extending it down to the finish line. 

“The weather conditions help for quick times. I just wanted to show everybody what I am capable of.”

“I’m feeling good ahead of tomorrow. Put the heats behind me and take that quarter-finals forwards. I know it’s in there, and have that confidence to push through the semis and into the finals.”

Katie Reid was making Olympic history on her debut in the women’s C1 200m, a new event for the Olympic programme.

The Forth paddler put down a strong time of 47.876 to finish in fourth place in the heats.

In the quarter-finals, with only the top two progressing, Katie was once again in fourth place, in a slightly quicker time of 47.821.

Katie first joined canoeing through the Girls4Gold programme in 2014, a campaign set up through UK Sport and EIS to uncover talented female athletes with the aim of representing Team GB at the Olympic Games. 

Katie can be proud of her performances on her Olympic debut in Tokyo, putting down two strong performances.

Speaking about her Olympic debut Katie Reid said:

I executed that the way I wanted to. The outcome is obviously not fast enough yet, but it’s another stepping stone towards Paris. I’ve only been doing the sport for seven years now, and to be here is an achievement. I’m happy to be here and take it all in.

– Katie Reid

“What an experience. It’s the first time women’s canoe has been in the Games so to be alongside all these girls out here it feels pretty special to be part of the first group.”


In the women’s K1 500m Deborah Kerr qualified for her second semi-final of the week.

After finishing in fifth place in her heat in a time of 1:51.375, the Strathclyde paddler powered through the quarter finals with a time of 1:50.133 to claim third place and a semi-final spot.

Deborah Kerr said:

“I’m so delighted, I was quite nervous ahead of that. I knew there was a chance to progress and I think I grabbed the opportunity today and made sure I managed the race.

“Tomorrow is going to be tough, we will see how it goes tomorrow with the semi-finals.

“I don’t feel too much pressure. This is a dream come true and to be here. We never thought we could get here so I am just delighted. All four of us have done Britain proud.

The future of canoeing is bright with three young British girls making their Olympic debut here. We’ve had some great inspiration to follow in the footsteps of. Anything is possible.

– Deborah Kerr

“I just wanted to make sure I raced all four days, just to get the most and learn the most out of it. I am really enjoying it out here and trying to soak it all up.”

After a seventh place in the heats for Emily Lewis (Worcester), an improved performance in the quarter-finals was not enough to progress to the semi-finals.

A trademark fast start put Emily in the lead and contention for a top three finish, but her Olympic journey came to an end with fourth place with a time of 1:51.996.

Emily can be proud of her performances over the 200m and 500m events and can take encouragement with how she has competed in Tokyo.

Speaking after the race Emily said:

 “It’s been a tough day! The sun is boiling hot and it’s hard racing the 500 which I haven’t done so much training for.

“I can look forward to the next few years as we gear up towards Paris. I will really focus on that 500m racing. I got a 1:51 which I’m really pleased with so that’s definitely a positive.

Being an Olympian is an incredible feeling and I'm thrilled to have experienced this over last month or so.

– Emily Lewis

Tomorrow is the last day of action for the British team. Liam Heath will be in action in the men’s K1 200m semi finals from 1:30am BST, with Deborah Kerr in the women’s K1 500m semis at 1.58am BST.


How can you follow?

Follow all the action on our live blog and social media channels for live commentary of the events, as well as round ups and quotes from each day.

Live coverage of the Games will be available on the Discovery+ platforms, BBC, Eurosport and with specific channel information provided nearer the event.

 

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