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Perfect golden paddle from K4 men

9 August 2012

CANOE/KAYAK - SPRINT: The Australian men’s kayak sprint team of Tate Smith, David Smith, Murray Stewart and Jacob Clear have paddled the perfect race to win gold in the K4 1000m at Eton Dorney early on Day 13.

The Australian K4 started the best out of all eight crews when racing got underway and had a slight lead after 100m. They had a narrow lead at the 250 mark, 0.46 seconds ahead of Hungary.

At the halfway mark the Hungarian crew stroked by Zoltan Kammerer had narrowed the margin to 0.09s.

Tate Smith continued to set a fantastic rhythm in the Australian boat and the power coming from David Smith (no relation), Stewart and Clear had the green and gold boat pulling away.

With 250 metres to paddle Australia led Hungary by 0.61 seconds with Slovakia in third. The German World Champion crew were in seventh.

The Australians were able to look around before crossing the finish and the emotional celebrations began. The Smiths and Clear were pumping the air with paddles in hand while Stewart looked shocked and relieved.

“The first 250 was always about getting the lead for the race,” David Smith said.

“We weren’t as far out in front as we usually are so through the middle part of the race we made sure we had good rhythm and tried and move away from them and take advantage of our good boat speed through the middle.

“We got to 500 in front and we could feel it, had a push through...held our lead and our last call at 300 when we kick no other crews came through so at about 200 metres (to go) we knew we had the gold.

“Fortunately with 100 to go we started to tighten up and lose our rhythm but we just had enough boat speed to get us to the line and the gold.” 

Their winning time in perfect conditions at Eton Dorney was 2:55.085. Hungary remained in silver (0.614 seconds back) and the Czech Republic took the bronze.

The Australian crew led at the 2011 World Championships in Szeged, Hungary before being overrun in the closing stages by Germany and ending up with silver.

Twelve months and a lot of hard work later the Australians were able to repel late charges from Hungary, Czech Republic and the German crew who moved from seventh to fourth.

“It’s great to prove to the world that we are the best crew in the world,” Smith said.

All of the Australian paddlers come from a surf life saving background. In Beijing, David and Tate Smith were part of the K4 crew that placed 10th and Clear was part of the K2 that placed 13th. Stewart will leave his first Olympics as a gold medallist.

The K4 has been the priority boat for Australia and when Stewart was determining the events he would race at London 2012 the K4 was always at the top of his list.

In other news from Eton Dorney, teenage paddlers Alex Haas and Jake Donaghey finished third in the B-Final of the C2 1000m, Alana Nicholls finished 8th in the K1 500m and Naomi Flood and Lyndsie Fogarty came 4th in the K2 500m.

Andrew Reid in London

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