Career firsts are rare for someone with as much experience as David Florence.
But after competing on his birthday for the first time to produce a faultless run with canoe slalom partner Richard Hounslow, qualifying them for the C2 semi-finals, perhaps it won’t be the last in Rio.
Florence, who turned 34 on Monday, needed just one slick run to qualify for the C1 semis on Sunday and replicated such success with Hounslow to post a clean run of 103.27seconds.
Silver medallists at London 2012, the pair know what it takes to produce under the intense pressure every athlete is presented with at an Olympic Games.
And with an Olympic gold medal having so far eluded him at two previous Games, Florence believes he stands an excellent chance of another new experience at Rio 2016.
“This is the first time I’ve competed on my birthday,” he said. “It was the opening ceremony in Beijing, which was pretty cool and then in London it was the week after we had competed.
“It’s always nice to enjoy your birthday and it was nice to do a good run and of course if we win a medal later this week it will be fantastic and a nice little birthday present.
“It was exactly what we tried to go about doing really. We’d gone for a fairly steady plan, the aim was just to get through and really we executed it exactly how we planned to.”
London’s C2 final was up there as one of Great Britain’s most memorable Olympic memories for a home Games – team-mates Etienne Stott and Tim Baillie pipping Florence and Hounslow to gold to seal a GB one-two.
It was the combination of Florence and Hounslow, however, that have remained at the top of their game but while their measured performance in the heats was an indication of their medal chances, Florence insists they won’t get carried away.
“In canoe slalom it’s so tough [to pick a favourite] because there are so many guys who can win,” he added.
The pair will go for gold on Thursday where they first must finish among the top 10 fastest boats in the semi-final to set up a chance at glory.
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