Ryan Cochrane of Windsor, N.S., and Hughes Fournel of Dorval, Que., increased their Olympic nomination hopes by winning the bronze medal in the K-2 200-metre race on Sunday to conclude the opening canoe and kayak World Cup.
In the men's K-2 200, one of 12 races on this summer's Olympic program, Arnaud Hybois and Sebastien Jouve of France were the winners in 33.432 seconds. Liam Heath and Jonathan Schofield of Britain were second at 33.820 and Cochrane and Fournel third at 33.860.
It was a first international medal for the Canadian pair who could potentially lock up the nomination with another strong performance at next weekend's World Cup.
`'We couldn't ask for more with so many good crews out there," said Fournel. `'I wasn't sure we were in the medals in the end but I knew we had a good race. I still can't believe we got on the podium."
`'We had a few things we wanted to improve from our earlier races here and we did that," added Cochrane. "We were out of the gates fast and were where we wanted to be at the halfway point. It was hard ending but it was enough."
In other Olympic events, Rhys Hill of Ottawa and Richard Dober of Trois-Rivieres, Que., were fifth and seventh respectively in the K-1 200 while Jason McCoombs of Dartmouth, N.S., and Genevieve Beauchesne-Sevigny of Trois-Rivieres were both eighth in the C-1 200 and women's K-1 200 respectively.
`'It definitely gives me some confidence for the next Olympic selection event in three weeks," said Hill. `'The second half of my race was a bit tough and I lost some ground on some guys. But the finish was really good and it made for a close race. The depth of the competition here was just incredible."
With McCoombs being the top Canadian in the event he and Aaron Rublee of Kamloops, B.C., each have a victory in the Olympic selection process for the event. Whoever posts the best result next week at the World Cup in Duisburg gets the Olympic nomination.
Great day for Canada in non-Olympic events
In non-Olympic events, Ben Russell of Dartmouth won the gold medal in the men's 5,000 metre marathon race clocking 23 minutes and 00.729 seconds more than seven seconds ahead of Matej Rusnak of Slovakia.
There were two more victories in women's canoe: Mallorie Nicholson of Nicholson of Oakville, Ont., and Laurence Vincent-Lapointe of Trois-Rivieres were 1-2 in the C-1 200 then combined forces for gold in the C-2 500.
Brady Reardon of Burlington, Ont., took the silver in the K-1 500 while Paul Bryant and Roland Varga, both of Richmond Hill, Ont., were sixth in the C-2 500.
`'It's an absolutely amazing result," said Reardon. `'I was trying to stay ahead but the last 100 metres or so was very tough. This is my first year racing K-1 internationally so this is a pretty good start for me."