TOKYO (Reuters) -Defending champion Liam Heath set an Olympic best time in the quarter-finals of the men’s kayak single 200 metres competition on Wednesday after the Briton had failed to gain direct entry into the last-four stage from his heat earlier.
Heath finished third in his heat behind Hungary’s Kolos Csizmadia – who eclipsed the double world champion’s previous Games record of 35.197 seconds set en route to gold in Rio – and Spain’s Carlos Arevalo, to drop into the quarters.
The 36-year-old saved his best performance for his second race of the day amid hot and breezy conditions at Sea Forest Waterway to cross the line in 33.985 seconds and advance.
“Practice makes perfect,” Heath, who will aim to avoid a slow start in Thursday’s semis, told reporters.
“My body needed to wake up a bit more and it was really good to get another run, and a solid one under my belt, to build that confidence and momentum.”
Csizmadia set a blistering time of 34.442 seconds and briefly held the Games record.
“I didn’t know I broke the record. I was afraid of this heat because there were two tough opponents,” Csizmadia said. “I hope I can win the semis… In the final, anything can happen. I really want a medal.”
New Zealand’s Lisa Carrington stayed on course to become the first athlete to win four canoe sprint medals at a single Games by reaching the semis of the women’s kayak single 500m with a time of 1:48.463 seconds.
Carrington sealed her third successive Games gold in women’s kayak single 200m on Tuesday, before partnering Caitlin Regal to win the kayak double 500m title. She will also be in action in the kayak four 500m competition.
But she was not pleased with her effort on the day.
“It’s not the performance I’m capable of laying down. It was messy… a bit lethargic and to be expected but it’s not what I prepared for,” Carrington said.
“It’s going to be hard… I’ve really got to step up my game because that’s not going to be good enough.”
American Nevin Harrison booked her place in the women’s canoe single 200m semis by setting the pace in her heat with an Olympic best time of 44.938.
The Australian pair of Jean van der Westhuyzen and Thomas Green then went fastest in the men’s kayak double 1000m with a Games best of 3:08.773.
(Reporting by Toshiki Hashimoto in Tokyo; Writing by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Lincoln Feast.)