There was heartbreak for Australia’s Ian Borrows, denied a place in the C1 Olympic canoe slalom final by his best friend on the paddling tour and pre-Games training partner.
Borrows, in his Olympic debut, finished in 11th place, one position and 0.09 seconds behind American Casey Eichfeld.
It was also revealed after the race that Borrows had been battling illness in the days leading up to the final, barely able to eat.
But post-race he wasn’t using his illness as an excuse, admitting he may well have taken 11th place if it had been offered to him before the Olympics began.
“It would have depended on the way I paddled, and I was pretty happy with the way I paddled,” Borrows said.
“I did two clean runs, and only netted two mistakes, and that was the plan. I paddled the way I wanted to, and the other guys were just better than me on the day.
“It was not a good feeling, watching those guys come down. They’re the best in this class for a reason, it’s never good to see them, they respond well under pressure. I hope I put some pressure on them today, but they came out on top.”
Australian coach, Mike Druce, said Borrows had paddled extremely well, especially considering his disrupted lead-up.
“He had a difficult few days leading in, he’s had a stomach bug and he hasn’t had much to eat for the past three days, so that’s not been easy,” Druce said.
“He hasn’t put that to the front at all, he’s put it in the background and focussed on the job, and to come away nine hundredths of a second away from a final, even though it’s super disappointing to miss the final, he should feel really proud of what he brought to the Games.”
12 months ago 26-year-old Borrows failed to even make the Australian World Championships team, but came out on top during a competitive qualification process on his home course in Penrith.
“It’s been an awesome ride,” Borrows said.
“I’ve been on the road for the past four months, so just that lifestyle alone has been pretty fun. I’ve just enjoyed every moment I can.”
Asked about his future, Borrows said he would have to go home and “earn some money” before making any decisions.
But Druce said Borrows has grown as an athlete in the past six months.
“He’s done an amazing job,” he said.
“He’d be the first to admit he is racing against guys who earlier in the year would have been well ahead of him, and he’s worked really really hard in the preparation.
“He raced two clean runs when he needed to, which has been something he struggled to do in training, so we’re pleased with that.”
Borrows short-term plans involved joining family in the stands to cheer on good mate Casey Eichfeld, the man who denied him a place in the top ten, in the final.
It was Eichfeld who Borrows teamed up with for long training sessions and long road trips in the US before the Games.