London 2012: GOLD FOR BRITAIN! Hounslow and Florence pipped by Baillie and Stott
PUBLISHED: 15:54 02 August 2012 | UPDATED: 22:09 02 August 2012
Olympic canoeing: 1. Great Britain, 2. Great Britain, 3. Slovakia
Great Britain claimed gold and silver in the two-man canoe slalom in front a jubilant home crowd.
Etienne Stott and Tim Baillie won gold in a time of 106.41 seconds, followed by Richard Hounslow and David Florence who registered a time of 106.77 seconds to claim silver.
It meant despair for three-time Olympic champions, twin brothers Pavol and Peter Hochschorner of Slovakia, who took bronze.
Baillie and Stott were first to go in the final and set the fastest time of the day, roared on by a capacity crowd of British canoe fans.
The partisan spectators started cheering as the following Chinese crew and Polish crews hit gates, incurring costly penalties, and ranking themselves outside the medals.
The biggest threat to Baillie and Stott’s time came from the Slovakian twins, who had won gold in Sydney, Athens and Beijing, but they also hit a gate and in the end finished outside the British crew’s time.
As Hounslow and Florence were last to run in the final, that guaranteed Britain a gold medal. The only question concerned whether they could beat their compatriots’ time.
They made the perfect start and were ahead at the first split, but coming out of the last gate they could not stay ahead of Baillie and Stott and lost out on gold by 0.36 seconds.
After two disappointing days at the Lee Valley white water course, where Britain had failed to reach the individual finals, there were scenes of joy as the victorious team jumped in the water to celebrate.
Stott told BBC Three: “It’s weird, it could have been a disaster and now it’s a dream.
“We did feel the pressure but for me I thought we needed something to go right today.
“There is nothing taken for granted in this sport and getting to the final was amazing.”
Baillie added: “To win is mad and for these boys (Florence and Hounslow) to finish second...
“The run we had, I was hoping it might be good enough for a medal but I didn’t expect that.”
Despite being edged into silver-medal position, Florence was pleased with how he and Hounslow performed.
“We had to focus on our own run and we were pleased with it,” he said.
“To win an Olympic medal, we are certainly not disappointed.”
Hounslow added: “We are one team, it’s all about Team GB but we wanted to put a result in.
“We attacked it hard all the way down but it was a sprinter’s finish.” It is Britain’s first ever gold in the canoe slalom, after Florence just missed out to Slovakia’s Michal Martikan in the individual C1 event in Beijing by a fraction of a second.
The gold medal for Stott and Baillie was unexpected. The pairing missed out on most of last season after Stott dislocated his right shoulder in training.
The silver medal also represents a turn around in the fortunes for Hounslow and Florence. The pairing only came together in 2009 after the Beijing Games and were ranked ninth in the world.
On Monday Florence was left devastated after failing to make the final of the C1 event, finishing 11th.
And then Hounslow flunked in the semi-final of the individual kayak, finishing 12th, leaving him outside of qualification.
With Lord Coe and IOC president Jacques Rogge in the stands, there were scenes the Olympic organisers could have only dreamed of as the partisan British crowd roared on Team GB’s crews.