Some familiar faces will be back in the waters of Lagao Rodrigo de Freitas as the medal race lineups in the men’s K1 200m, men’s C2 1000m, women’s K4 500m and men’s K4 1000m divisions are decided on Olympic Day 14.
The breakneck pace of the 200-meter kayak sprint often makes it a difficult event to predict.
It also makes the heats and semifinal races, which will take place on Friday, especially intriguing as favorites are often eliminated early on in lightning-quick finishes.
That kind of scenario is yet to occur for Canada’s Mark de Jonge, who has finished on the podium at every major competition dating back to London 2012. He is the favorite to win gold on Saturday, and will likely take care of business in the preliminary races.
Sweden’s Petter Menning and France’s Maxime Beamont are also favorites to take home medals, and should qualify for Saturday’s final.
Brazil’s Isaquias Queiroz already has silver and bronze from these Games. Gold could be on the menu in the C2 1000m, but he’ll need the help of partner and countryman, Erlon Souza.
The biggest challenge to the Brazilians will likely come from the Hungarian pair of Henrik Vasbanyai and Robert Mike. They have won a medal of some kind at each of the last three world championships.
The Polish and Ukrainian boats will also be quick.
From 1985 up until last year’s World Championships, every major competition in the women’s K4 500m had been won by either Germany or Hungary.
Belarus broke the streak last summer, and could very well match the effort in Rio.
Needless to say, Germany and Hungary are also favorites to stand atop the podium, with Poland and Ukraine lurking as outside contenders.
Unlike the women’s big boats, the men’s field is wide-open, with five nations equally poised to push for gold.
Slovakia, Czech Republic, Australia, Hungary, and Russia will all look to get off to strong starts in Friday’s preliminary races.