Canada wins two gold, five medals on final Pan Am canoe/kayak day
On the final day at the Welland International Flatwater Centre, Canada got on the board with kayak gold courtesy of world champion Mark de Jonge.
From lane four, de Jonge beat the K-1 200m competition in 35.7333 seconds on a rainy day in Welland, where true-to-form Canadian supporters had braved the downpour to cheer on Team Canada on its last day of Pan Am canoe/kayak action. The same venue hosted the first medal of TO2015 – a women’s K-4 500m gold for Canada – on Saturday.
“The race was really good actually, I executed exactly the way I wanted to,” de Jonge said. “I had a lot of pressure on my right side with (Ruben Voisard Rezola of Argentina) and the Ecuadorian (Cesar de Cesare).”
After winning at home and conquering the Americas, de Jonge will reaffirm his focus on the World Championships this summer and the Olympic Games in 2016.
“I think it was a really good practice for me just to keep everything inside the boat and really focus on what I was doing. So leaning towards worlds and the Olympics, I have this under my belt so when I look back on this I can see it as a positive thing.”
Edson Freitas da Silva of Brazil (36.239) and de Cesare (36.431) took silver and bronze respectively behind the Canadian in the 200m solo kayak race.
Following de Jonge, Jason McCoombs took off in his canoe in the C-1 200m, earning silver for Team Canada. A mouth-watering final stretch saw McCoombs (41.333 seconds) battle Brazil’s Isaquias Queiroz dos Santos, who got away to score gold 1.342 seconds in front of the Canadian. Arnold Rodriguez of Cuba took bronze (41.459).
“Overall, it was a very good effort,” McCoombs said of his Pan Am adventure. “I got off to a pretty good start, I was right up there, and then he just kind of pulled away in the last 75 metres.”
“Getting a medal at such a big event, it’s unbelievable, it’s a great experience. I obviously wanted the gold, but the silver is pretty good too.”
The best female canoeist on the planet, Vincent Lapointe, then hit the water to take gold in the C-1 200m.The four-time World Champion in this distance covered the course in 49.685 seconds, comfortably (or as comfortable sprint canoeing can get) 2.313 seconds ahead of Anggie Avegno Salazar of Ecuador. Brazil’s Valdenice Conceicao do Nascimento (3.458 behind the winner) took bronze.
“I was tired at the end, but I said to myself ‘this is the Pan Am, I can’t give up,’ Vincent Lapointe told the Games’ news service. “I gave my all for Canada.”
“I have the feeling that the whole country is behind me, so if I can make the whole nationa proud of me, it makes me very happy.”
Next on the podium for Team Canada in Welland was kayaker Michelle Russell, narrowly edging out a challenger for silver in the women’s K-1 200m. It was Russell’s third medal of the Games, leaving TO2015 with another silver in the K-1 500m and the coveted TO2015 first gold as part of the K-4 500m team on Day 1.
The fifth medal for Canada – a bronze – came in the K-2 200m with de Jonge returning to team up with Pierre-Luc Poulin. While their boat crossed the finish line fourth, because they were within five one-thousandth of the third place finisher, de Jonge and Poulin also win bronze as per International Canoe Federation rules.
The five-medal day pulled Canada in an overall tie with Cuba, both countries leaving TO2015 with 10 flatwater medals. The Cubans however, hold the edge with six gold medals to four for Canada.