TOKYO – Reigning world champion Nevin Harrison of Seattle won her heat in the women’s 200-meter canoe sprint and thus advanced directly to the semifinal round of the Olympics at Sea Forest Waterway.
The semifinal races begin Wednesday at 5:44 p.m. PDT, with the final set for Wednesday at 7:57 p.m. PDT, according to the American Canoe Association, the national governing body for Olympic paddlesports.
“It’s really windy but the course is awesome,” Harrison was quoted as saying on the ACA site. “I’m feeling really good, really strong and I’m really excited… I was pretty nervous, but it’s just like any other race, except the pressure is a hundred.”
Harrison, 19, covered 200 meters in 44.938 seconds, the day’s best time. The next-fastest winners in the five heats were Laurence Vincent Lapointe of Canada (45.408) and Liudmyla Luzan of Ukraine (45.571). They were among the athletes who didn’t have to compete in the quarterfinals.
“My plan is to take it race by race and not think too much about what lies ahead,” Harrison said. “I just need to go out there, do what I know I can, and execute my plan… I’m here to race and beat who I have to.”
Vincent Lapointe, 29, needed a 2019 doping suspension overturned, and some maneuvering through the entry rules by Canadian Olympic officials, to get to this event.
“I did everything in the last two years to make it here, and I think I deserve to be here,” Vincent Lapointe said. “If someone is still mad, there’s nothing I can do.”
Canada entered Vincent Lapointe in a kayak event she had never raced before, then used a provision in the rules that allowed her to switch to the 200-meter canoe event. It was a manipulation of the rules, but not illegal.
Harrison’s opinion of the Canadian’s unusual path to the canoe sprint?
“The Olympic process is always a complicated one,” Harrison was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. “I’ll leave it at that.”