The 200-meter kayaking sprint begins with everyone paddling as fast as their arms can muster.
Winning comes down to “who is slowing down the least at the end,” said Lisa Carrington of New Zealand.
On Tuesday that was her, just like four years ago in the London Olympics and in the four world championship finals that she’s won in the event.
Carrington, 27, described the sprint as a “power race” that requires paddlers to go full-speed as long as possible during the roughly 40 seconds it takes to finish the course. There’s no room for mistakes.
“From start to finish every stroke counts. It’s kind of who can hold the highest speed for the longest,” she said.
The 200-meter events were introduced in the London Olympics and turned out to be a crowd pleaser because spectators in the finish area can watch the entire race with the naked eye.
The furious pace of paddles flipping through the water and the agony on the faces of the competitors add to the drama.
“It’s similar to the 400-meters track for running,” said Gordon Walker, Carrington’s coach.
“It’s as hard as you can go for probably five or six seconds,” he said. “Then there’s still an element of pacing in there. You can’t go full gas all the way or you probably will die in the last 25 meters.”
Carrington will be back in the lagoon Wednesday for the preliminary heats in the 500-meter event, where pacing is more important.
The men’s K1 200-meter event has heats on Friday and the medal race on Saturday, the last day of the canoe sprint competition.
The favorites include Mark de Jonge of Canada, Maxime Beaumont of France and Petter Menning of Sweden.