The Canoe/Kayak sprint (formerly: flatwater) competitions begin on day 10 of the 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympics.
No medals will be awarded, but the world’s fastest paddlers will be in action in Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon starting bright and early Monday morning.
A trio of heats in the men’s C1 1000-meter division will kick off the day of competition.
There is a dominant force in this class, and his name is Sebastian Brendel (heat 1).
The German is not only the defending Olympic champion in the kilometer, but is also the three-time defending world champion. Barring the catastrophic, he will cruise into Tuesday’s final.
Brendel will almost certainly be joined by Martin Fuksa (heat 2) of the Czech Republic and Serghei Tarnovishi (heat 3) of Moldova, the other two medalists at last summer’s World Championships.
Brazil’s Isaquias Quieroz has an outside chance to win a medal for his host nation in this event. He will also race the C1 200m and C2 1000m in a jam-packed program for the Brazilian.
2012 gold medalists Franziska Weber and Tina Dietze (heat 2) of Germany are back, but they will have much stiffer competition this time around.
Hungary, a powerhouse in the sport, will send Gabriella Szabo and Danuta Kozak (heat 1) as the overall favorites to win the gold. Szabo has won the last two world championships, most recently with Kozak as her partner.
Poland and Serbia will also contend for medals in this class, which begins competition on Monday.
Lisa Carrington (heat 1) of New Zealand has been the fastest woman in a kayak for quite some time now.
She has won the sport’s top annual competition (either the World Championships or the Olympics) each of the last five years. It would be a major upset if she were not to maintain the streak in Rio.
The woman most likely to put some shred of pressure on Carrington is Poland’s Marta Walczykiewicz (heat 2). She has finished second behind the Kiwi in three straight world championships.
There is no clear-cut favorite in this event as there will be in other events in this sport.
Denmark’s Rene Holten Poulsen (heat 1), the Czech Republic’s Josef Dostal (heat 2), and Portugal’s Fernando Pimenta (heat 3) will all likely qualify for Tuesday’s final, where each could push for the gold medal.
The trio is heavily favored to make up the podium, though fringe contenders could make a case for themselves with fast times in the heats and semifinals.