Olympics: David Florence not ready to give up on gold

It is becoming an all-too familiar tale for Edinburgh canoeist David Florence.

Friday, 12th August 2016, 5:30 am
David Florence, right, and Richard Hounslow claimed a silver medal in Rio  after doing the same in 2012

But, if the second step on the podium is where he seems to have set up shop these days, there are certainly worse places to live.

Florence and Richard Hounslow were again forced to settle for Olympic silver in the C2 Canoe Slalom final at the Whitewater Stadium in Rio on Thursday.

That means that Florence has now taken home silver from the last three Olympics in a row – two of them alongside Hounslow – without a real golden moment of his own.

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It looked like their time might have come halfway through their final round at the Rio Whitewater Stadium when they were over a second up on the Slovakian cousins Ladislav and Peter Skantar.

But, in the end – despite avoiding any penalties on the course – they crossed the line in 102.01 seconds less than half a second down on the Slovaks while bronze went to Gauthier Klauss and Matthieu Peche from France.

But, after missing out on a medal in the C1 earlier this week – despite being the reigning world champion in the event – just getting his hands on some silverware was a result for Florence.

“We are not disappointed at all – okay we got the silver medal,” he said. “After the disappointment of a couple of days ago for me, I just wanted to put together a solid run with 
Richard to the best of our ability and we did that.

“Okay, so it was not quite gold but in a sport like this where you spend all that time preparing and the slightest mistake can cost you not just medal, but put you nowhere near a medal, I am really pleased with how we held that together.

“The Slovakians put down a run that was faster than I think anyone thought was possible and that can be a little bit scary when you are waiting for your run and they are sitting there rubbing their hands.

“To win more than one (medal) in a sport ... there are not many people who have managed to do that – especially when you only get one run that determines what the rest of the world think of you so we are very pleased.”

Both at London 2012 and here in Brazil, the duo have missed out on gold by less than half a second.

But, on home soil four years ago, they were beaten by team-mates Etienne Stott and Tim Baillie after a error-strewn final run cost them dear.

“We put down a better run here than London – I was more disappointed in 2012 to be totally honest with you,” added Florence.

“This one in some ways was more challenging. The wind was picking up and the (Slovakian pair’s) time was so much faster than everyone else’s first runs.

“Regrettably in this sport you are used to disappointment – I have had it a phenomenal number of times.

“They don’t just hand out gold medals – everyone wants one.”

Florence turned 34 during these Olympics but, while his partner Hounslow is pondering retirement, Florence has not given up his dream of making the top step of the podium.

And, while he was quick to point out that the Japanese lessons have not begun yet – he learned Portuguese before coming out here and Mandarin before Beijing in 2008 – Tokyo 2020 is very much in his sights.

“I still absolutely love canoeing. I have loved all the training and the build-up to the Games,” he added. “If things continue successfully then, yeah, I would love to go to Tokyo but just to get to an Olympics is so tough. I was lucky to be here in C1 – qualification is so hard just to make the start line.

“But I still love canoeing, I am not about to retire.”

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