24 August 2008
Hyperactive or what? Paddling doctor Tim Brabants followed his Kayak gold with a closely contested bronze, and then announced a holiday schedule that would leave most people ailing at the thought.
While other medallists announce that it is time to hang out with friends and indulge in a touch of beach lounging, Britain’s finest kayaker will over the next month do a surfing trip to Cornwall, a 200 metre sprint in Canada, a triathlon in Windsor and a 20km ocean-going race in Dubai in something called a “surf-ski”. After that he will hawk round hospitals for a job.
The Kayak 500 metres is the most intense piece of whirling paddles you will see, with the nine finalists getting in more than 200 strokes in the 1min 37sec it takes to get from line to line. Adam van Koeverden, the Athens gold medallist, got an early lead in a determined effort to put Friday’s unaccountable flop behind him. Brabants, drawn out in lane one, always looked to be struggling and, with 100 metres to go, seemed to be out of the medals. But with the power finish that will surely stand him in good stead during the next month he closed up to the Canadian Van Koeverden, only for the pair of them to be outpunched by the Australian Ken Wallace.
For a moment the cheering Britons, who included the former Olympian Princess Anne, thought they had another silver as the normally dependable scoreboard flashed Brabants’ name up in second. More careful perusal, however, put him three hundredths of a second behind the Canadian, with the Australian boat only 0.37 sec in front. “I saw the medal table this morning,” said Wallace afterwards, “and thought it was time an Aussie put one over the Brits – even if I had to do it sitting down.”
The 25-year-old Wallace, who is a lifeguard back home on the Gold Coast, had won his first Olympic medal when finishing third behind Brabants on Friday. “I am really stoked to have won gold,” he said. “I have been following these guys around and never got onto the podium until yesterday. I have to give a lot of credit to Jimmy Owens, who is as much a good mate as a coach and has put up with me for five years. Now it would be really neat to go to London.”
That destination is also on Brabants’ agenda but only after he has taken 18 months off to continue his medical career. “I will have to do two months supervised to get myself up to speed,” he said, “but I’m keen to get back to
A and E. Taking time out will give my body a chance to rest, and when I come back the lure of London will make me more motivated than ever.
“My coach Eric Farrell [whose day job is running a damp proof business in Thames Ditton] says he will do it if I do it. And as we have been together 15 years, London would be a great place to finish.”