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In less time than it takes him to manoeuvre his way down a slalom course, Campbell Walsh moved from third to fourth place and then back to third again before it was finally decided that the 26-year-old Glaswegian had actually won silver in Friday's K1 kayaking final.
There were chaotic scenes at the end of the race as Walsh was initially given third place in an unofficial time of 191.16secs. There was a brief, unfounded rumour, that he would fall out of the medal places because of an additional penalty before his time was then revised to 190.17secs, the discrepancy blamed on a timing error.
Walsh's elevation to silver was confirmed when world champion Fabien Lefevre was himself hit by a delayed two-second penalty for colliding with one of the 20 gates along the 300m course on his final run.
Fortunately for Walsh, and the frayed nerves of a British team already involved in two disputes over medal placings, Lefevre did not appeal against the final result of the time trial.
“I was pretty confused,” admitted Walsh when he got off the water. He said he was happy with silver but knew he might never have a better chance of winning a gold. The final rankings are based on the combined times for both the semi-final and final. Having qualified for the semi as the second fastest, Walsh then produced a fantastic run to lead France's Benoit Peschier by two hundredths of a second going into the final. The fact Walsh did not win was partly a result of his own errors but also because of a blisteringly quick final run by Peschier, who registered a time of 187.96 seconds.
Asked how he felt waiting to go down the course knowing that Peschier had set such a tough target, Walsh said: “I was going for gold. I thought I could still take it. On the first run I was very happy with the way I attacked the course. But then on the second I made some mistakes. That is just the nature of white water …and I eased up at the finish. I thought I had it in the bag but I wasn't even anywhere near it.”
Earlier, the British men's C2 canoe pair of Nick Smith and Stuart Bowman, who were in second place going into the semi-final, failed to progress after an error-strewn round that left them in ninth place overall.
The final was won, as it was in Sydney four years ago, by the Slovakian twin brothers Peter and Pavol Hochschorner.
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