Baku 2015: Olympic champion McKeever strikes a mental blow

15 June 2015 / 11:30

Olympic champion Ed McKeever admits he's got a target on his back at the European Games - but he's got no complaints.

McKeever narrowly beat Spain's Saul Craviotto Rivero to win the K1 200m title at London 2012 but was comfortably his match in Baku.

The British sprint specialist qualified straight to the final with a confident heats victory while the Olympic silver medallist crashed out in the semi-finals.

"Qualifying straight to the final is more of a psychological advantage over my opponents than a physical one," said McKeever.

"I had a good start and felt good. I just followed on from there, paddling fast.  It is not just one person you’re racing. There are a lot of strong opponents here. The European champion from this year was in this heat, so there are plenty of people to beat.

"When you turn up at these competitions you want to race as fast as possible. And if I do that, hopefully I can come away with the gold."

Olympic bronze medallists Liam Heath and Jon Schofield also looked confident, progressing to straight to the men's K2 200m final after finishing second in their heat.

"We were very good," said Schofield. "We did not have our best start and that is a little bit for us to work on for the final, but apart from that it went pretty much as planned.

"In the final we'll be simply fighting to win. We have a game plan that we want to execute to perfection and that will get us down the course as fast as possible."

Rachel Cawthorn, whose priority target is the K1 500m in Baku, progressed to the final of the women's K1 200m but Chris Calvert finished sixth in the men's C1m 200m and will now race in the B final.

Emily Lewis and Hayleigh Mason failed to finish their women's K2 200m heat after capsizing just short of the finish line. 

Elsewhere, Jonathan Boyton finished ninth in the men's K1 1000m final, won by five-time European champion, Germany's Max Hoff.

And Lani Belcher, Angela Hannah, Hayleigh Mason, Louisa Sawers ranked eighth in the women's K4 500m final, which was won by Hungary.

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