de Jonge advances to final with fastest time in K1 200 semi

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LONDON – Halifax’s Mark de Jonge and the K2 pair of Ryan Cochrane from Windsor, NS and Hugues Fournel from Lachine, QC have advanced to the 200 metre finals in CanoeKayak events at the London 2012 Olympic Games. de Jonge raced in the first 200 metre kayak race ever held at the Olympics. It was also his first time racing on the world stage this year due to a finger injury in April that kept him out of World Cups.

“This is really my first international race this year and it was good,” said de Jonge after qualifying for the final tomorrow morning. “It’s a pretty incredible feeling to race the gold medal race but I am trying to contain that feeling. I am going to go back to the village and relax and not think about it.”

de Jonge convincingly won his K1 200 metre heat with a time of 35.396 seconds. For a few minutes he held the Olympic best time which was beat in the second heat by a few fractions of a second.

The semi-final came down to a tight finish between de Jonge and Piotr Siemionowski of Poland. de Jonge edged out Siemionowski by two thousandths of a second to clock a 35.595. The final will take place on Saturday morning with coverage on CTV starting at 4:30 a.m. EST.

Cochrane and Fournel will also race in the finals tomorrow in the K2 200 metre. Cochrane and Fournel placed fourth in their semi-final with a time of 33.50 seconds. The crew also placed fourth in their heat and finished in a similar time of 33.40 seconds. “We have a better race waiting for us tomorrow,” said Cochrane. “We have not had our best race yet.” Fournel added, “It’s good to have these two races under way. We take everything positively. We have a lane in the final right now and we are going for it.”

Jason McCoombs of Dartmouth, NS missed making the C1 200 metre final by less than a second. McCoombs placed fourth in his semi-final and paddled a strong race. He shot his boat early and finished with a time of 42.255 seconds. McCoombs clocked 41.742 seconds in his heat and also finished fourth. He will race the B-final tomorrow morning and says he has learned a lot from his first Olympic races today.

“I found it hard to keep the stroke rate up and am a bit disappointed,” said McCoombs. “I learned a lot and experienced that the crowd can be a distraction. I have never been to a regatta with so many people. The support from home has been great.”

Émilie Fournel of Lachine, QC did not advance to the finals in the women’s K1 200. She finished seventh in her semi final and fifth in her heat. She clocked a time of 43.030 seconds in her semi and 43.117 seconds in her heat. Fournel favours the 500 metre distance and placed sixth in the B-final of that event yesterday.

With calm water and comfortable temperatures, racing conditions at Eton Dorney were ideal. The weather is expected to hold for tomorrow when the first 200 metre Olympic medals are set to be handed out. Members of de Jonge’s home club will gather tomorrow at Maskwa Aquatic Club in Halifax tomorrow morning at 5:30 Atlantic Time. Banook Canoe Club in Dartmouth will also gather to cheer on McCoombs and the rest of the Canadian team. -30-

For more information:

Lorraine Lafrenière

Media Attaché, CanoeKayak Canada

+44 7714000808 llafreniere@canoekayak.ca

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