On the second day of the Tesco UK Championships at Lee Valley in Hertfordshire that doubled up as the trials, the 29-year-old from Edinburgh separated himself from his slalom rivals in the C1 class with two dominating descents that made today’s third leg entirely redundant.
During his first excursion down the white water that will stage the Olympic competition in late July, Florence achieved perfection with a clean run that was almost six seconds ahead of the field.
With guaranteed selection all but his, he emphasised his superiority second time out to build an unassailable lead over closest challenger Mark Proctor. And now he can turn his attention to London and use the knowledge of 2008 to the best of effect in his quest for Games victory.
“Having been there before, I know it’s something I’m capable of,” Florence said. “But four years on is a long time in terms of the sport. I’ve probably taken more from the good results I’ve had over the past year. But that experience can only help me.
He will have two opportunities to excel. With Richard Hounslow also earning his spot in the K1 kayak class, Britain became eligible to field a pair of two-man crews in the two-man Olympic C2 event. Although Florence and Hounslow lead the standings in the trials headed into today’s decisive leg, they – and rivals Etienne Stott and Tim Baillie – are now guaranteed selection.
However, Hounslow’s solo paddle came at the expense of Campbell Walsh. Now aged 34, the silver medalist from Athens in 2004 underlined his personal resurgence with a perfect run in the semi-final. However, the veteran from Stirlingshire saw his dreams of attending a third consecutive Games evaporate as he languished in second place.
And there was similar disappointment for Crieff’s Fiona Pennie who was left in tears after two days in which she failed to produce her best. The Beijing Olympian was already behind her rivals and Lizzie Neave wrapped up overall victory in the K1 event, with Pennie stranded in fourth.