The crowd was plentiful on a cloudy, yet beautiful 74 degree day at Lagao Stadium.
Heartbreak for gold medal favorites, elation for rising stars and the first-ever tie in canoe/kayak sprint topped the atmosphere on the final day of canoe/kayak sprint.
Four classes crowned 11 Olympic champions on Saturday.
Those champions, however, didn’t achieve their Olympic dream without a fight.
Men’s Kayak Single 200m
Liam Heath was full of elation after crossing the finish line and confirmed his first place finish. He continued the Brits reign in the K1 200m and became an Olympic champion.
Heath has had a very successful Rio Games; he won silver in the men’s kayak double 200m on Thursday. The two-time Olympian also won bronze in the K2 200m at the London Games.
Prior to Rio, Heath had never competed in the K1 200m at an Olympics or World Championships, but he won that distance in this year’s European Championships.
Heath lead for most of the race, but France’s Maxime Beamont, also a medal favorite, was quickly gaining.
Beamont couldn’t pass Heath and claimed silver.
A history-making fight for bronze was the talk of the race.
A photo finish awarded Spain’s Saul Craviotto the bronze medal, moments later, Germany’s Ronald Rauhe yelled out in joy, he too was awarded bronze.
In a race where winners are determined within thousands of a second, the Spaniard and German tied for Bronze.
This is the first tie for a medal in canoe/kayak in Olympic history.
Canada’s Mark de Jonge, the gold medal favorite who made it to Final A by .003 seconds, was unable to defend his title and finished seventh in the final.
Men’s Canoe Double 1000m
Sebastian Brendel and Jan Vandrey pumped their fists and roared in celebration after they claimed gold in the C2 1000m.
Brendel won gold and defended his title in the men’s canoe single 1000m on Tuesday; this marks his second gold medal of the Rio Games.
Brendel and Vandrey trailed for most of the race, but took the lead from Brazil’s Isaquias Queiroz and Erlon de Souza in the final seconds.
With the roar of the crowd behind them, the Brazilian duo set sail and led for most of the race. A tight field trailed Queiroz and de Souza for most of the race, but in the end it was Germany who prevailed.
Queiroz and de Souza won silver for their home country.
Queiroz, who already won silver and bronze at the Rio Games, added one more piece of hardware to his collection and became the first Brazilian to win three medals in an Olympic Games (2 silvers, 1 bronze).
Queiroz overcame a hard-fought childhood which included close brushes with death and a kidnapping attempt, and has become a fan favorite in his home country.
Dmytro Ianchuk and Taras Mishchuk of Ukraine won bronze in their Olympic debut.
Women’s Kayak Four 500m
Gabriella Szabo, Danuta Kozak, Tamara Csipes, Krisztina Fazekas-Zur were overcome with emotion atop the podium of the K4 500m victory ceremony as they paid tribute to the Hungarian flag during its national anthem. They are now Olympic champions.
Hungary has won medals in this event in four consecutive Olympics leading up to Rio (silver in 2000, 2004, 2008, and gold in London 2012).
Kozak is the first woman to ever win three gold medals in canoe/kayak sprint in a single Olympics.
From 1985 up until last year’s World Championships, every major competition in the women’s K4 500m was won by either Germany or Hungary.
This race proved just that, Sabrina Hering, Franziska Weber, Steffi Kriegerstein, Tina Dietze of Germany won silver. Coming into the Rio Games, Germany had won medals in this event in six straight Olympics (four gold and two silver between 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012) – the last time Germany failed to win a medal in this event was Seoul in 1988.
Marharyta Makhneva, Nadzeya Liapeshka, Volha Khudzenka, Marnya Litvinchuk of Belarus won bronze. Belarus also won a bronze in this event in London (two of those four paddlers returned for Rio).
Men’s Kayak Four 1000m
Tears of joy streamed from one of the Germans as their national anthem echoed throughout Lagao Stadium.
Max Rendschmidt, Marcus Gross, Tom Liebscher and Max Hoff became Olympic champions in the K4 1000m.
This is Germany’s seventh medal of these Olympics in canoe/kayak sprint – more than any other country. This is also Germany’s seventh total medal in this event – it’s now tied with Hungary for most medals in the men’s K4 1000m.
Rendschmidt and Gross won gold in the K2 1000m event on Thursday.
The German quad won gold by at least a boat length, but the battle for silver ended in a photo finish.
Slovakia’s Denis Mysak, Erik Vlcek, Juraj Tarr and Tibor Linka ended up claiming silver with a time of 3 minutes 05.044 seconds, compared to the finishing time of 3:05.176 from Czech Republic’s Daniel Havel, Lukas Trefil, Josef Dostal and Jan Sterba, who took home bronze.