Rheinisch on an even keel after the current carries him home
CANOEING:FORGIVE ME, it’s been four years since my last visit to a white water venue. It won’t be nearly as long until next time. Eoin Rheinisch has at least assured that much.
Standing at a bus stop in Olympic Park, waiting for the number 112B, it’s hard to know what to expect this time, or even remember. Four years ago, Eoin Rheinisch left the venue in Beijing having just seen a bronze medal slip through his fingers, disappearing into the foamy water, the only consolation being he’d delivered the perfect bare-knuckle ride.
There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since, and no guarantee this 25-mile journey north, into the Lee Valley, would be nearly as much fun. The bus journey certainly isn’t, but as it turns out Rheinisch’s performance definitely is, setting him up for a shot at the medal race back up here on Wednesday afternoon.
For such a precarious sport, that’s a bit like a goldfish trying to stop itself from being flushed down the toilet, the men’s kayak slalom is fascinating to watch, and the time passes quickly out here. The storm clouds that gather overhead are perfectly suitable, adding to atmosphere, and if it wasn’t for the fairly packed out grandstands this could easily be somewhere in the canyons of Colorado.
It’s shortly after lunchtime when Rheinisch appears from the watery escalator that delivers each competitor to the start line: with that he’s off, not only gravity trying to pull him down, but 13,000 litres of water per second. The exact lay-out of the 300 metre course, decorated with 22 gates, is only revealed to the competitors on the day of the race.
Each of the 22 men get two runs each, and Rheinisch arrives down at the finish, the sixth man to go, in 91.97 seconds – which they convert directly to points: minutes later this is corrected to 89.97, as actually his two-point penalty, for touching the second last gate, is misjudged by the judges.
It briefly puts him in pole position, and effectively into Wednesday’s semi-final race, as the top 15 all progress: his second run, about 90 minutes later, is scored at 90.72 points, and leaves him 12th overall, safely through.
“It’s always nice to put down a good first run,” he says, “both arms probably still brimful of lactic acid. If you don’t do that then there’s an awful lot of pressure on you to produce something in the second run. That made for a relatively stress free afternoon.
“But there were parts of my second run, where I got held up in a few places, And it’s all about getting that balance. If you try to go too fast you will make the little mistakes. This course is quite cruel like that.”