Kayak crew ready for 'Winter Games'

Jim Morton, NZ Newswire August 8, 2012, 8:18 am

Australia's crack K4 1000 kayak crew are hoping the Summer Games don't turn winter again on Thursday but plan to put the heat on their finals rivals either way.

The crew of bronzed lifesavers - Tate Smith, David Smith, Murray Stewart and Jake Clear - were caught by the English conditions in their Tuesday heats as temperatures plummeted on Lake Dorney.

Tate Smith admitted the winter-like cold and blustery weather was a factor in their third placing before bouncing back to dominate their semi-final.

The Australians wore extra layers of kayak shirts and also put more energy into their warm-up to ensure they started strongly.

That they did, and their win over the world champion Germans and in-form Czechs mean they'll line up as a serious gold medal contender in the canoe sprint finals on Thursday.

""We probably didn't warm up too good in the heats, it's a bit cold over here, and we learned that and stayed warmer in the semi-final one and got out a bit faster," Tate Smith said.

"We have to stay warmer."

Second at last year's world titles when they led for 850m before being overhauled by Germany, the Australian quartet will again attempt to outsprint the otherwise European field from the start.

"We wanted to get out there and put the race to the others (in the semi-final), to ask the question and see if they had an answer; fortunately no-one had," said David Smith. "We plan to go out again hard in the final."

Australia has never won the K4 at the Olympics but Thursday's race, with such an open field, presents a great opportunity.

Denmark came to London as the favourites but only scraped into the eight-boat final as the last qualifier while the Czech crew, who won two World Cup regattas, were third in the semi-final.

Like Australia, less was expected of Hungary and Slovakia who won each heat.

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