A familiar course and a familiar chance of gold were what David Florence faced when he sat at the start of his final run at the Whitewater Stadium in Rio.
But it was only the familiar feeling of disappointment that he experienced at the finish after a disastrous run saw him finish last in the C1 final.
Already with a silver medal in the discipline from Beijing, the 34-year-old was looking to become Olympic champion for the first time yesterday.
The reigning World Champion had spent an incredible amount of time on Rio’s white water during six visits out to Brazil in preparation for these Games, and he stood an excellent chance.
However, a poor entry to the first of three difficult gates near the top of his run meant his race was over before it ever got going – his chances of even a podium finish vanishing in a matter of strokes.
His time of 109.00seconds was a full 14.83seconds behind gold medallist Denis Gargaud Chanut, of France, although a four-second penalty for two pole touches didn’t help his cause.
And, after a similarly heartbreaking display in London four years ago, Florence admits it is the nature of the sport to have to deal with such disappointment.
“I was a bit tight on the first gate of a difficult three-gate sequence and it was unrecoverable from there, really,” he said. “It just left me so low with a big, big-time loss and unfortunately you can’t afford to make a mistake like that.
“I didn’t really manage to get the run back flowing after the initial mistake at all, which was very disappointing.
“When it comes down to one run it is so tough, when you have got guys competing in so many races and so many runs all through the season, for some it doesn’t even convert to getting to the Olympics.
“For a lot of guys here it doesn’t convert to anything and others have the right run at just the right time and get a fantastic run and that’s how it works. It is well deserved.
“You do get pretty used to disappointment in sport and it’s not just the three guys there on the podium that had the potential to be there, unfortunately you generally don’t win them all.
“Even the guys that are heroes of our sport have had huge disappointment and unfortunately that is an accepted part of it once that happens.
“You don’t get to go to an Olympics very often. London was very disappointing, today’s been very disappointing and hopefully in a couple of days it won’t be as disappointing but we’ll see.”
Florence’s hopes of that first Olympic title are not over yet though – the C2 discipline with partner Richard Hounslow offers another great opportunity tomorrow when they line up in the semi-final.
It was silver in London for the pair at their first Games together and a strong showing in qualification seems to suggest they are ready to challenge with the best in the world again.
And, despite his failure in the C1, Florence insists he will have no issue with moving on from that and giving it his all in the other discipline.
“No, it will be easy [to pick himself up],” he added. “I’ve done it lots of times and I am used to competing in both events and sadly a lot more used to disappointment than success.
“Obviously, I am disappointed but it’s done now and that’s that. Four years of preparation for that and a little mistake unfortunately makes it all seem like a little bit of a waste of time.
“I will treat the C2 exactly the same as if I had won or finished last here. We’ve got to get the final and then we’ll try to deliver in that final run.”
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