Mike Dawson knew he couldn't paddle conservatively in his men's K1 canoe slalom semifinal this morning (NZT) but also knew it could end one of two ways.
Sadly for the 25-year-old paddler, it went the wrong way. Dawson was on a good run until he was washed past gate 19 and then banged into gate 20.
It not only affected his time but, more significantly, saw him pick up 100 penalty points for the two gate infringements and finish at the tail of the 15 paddlers. He needed to finish in the top 10 to make the final.
"Unfortunately I made a little error and I missed the wave," said Dawson, who went into the Olympics ranked No 51 in the world. "It meant I was playing catchup to get to gate 19 and then I hit gate 20. It was all over. I felt pretty deflated at that moment.
"I always said I couldn't race conservatively. I was on track for the final and after that I was going to go all out to see if I could get on the podium. But my day ended a little earlier than I have hoped. You live and you learn."
The day ended on a more positive note when he witnessed close friend and training partner Vavrinec Hradilek of the Czech Republic collect silver in the final paddle.
Dawson ran down the side of the river offering support and for a couple of minutes admitted to being an honorary Czech citizen.
Fellow Tauranga paddler Luuka Jones races in the semifinals of the women's K1 canoe slalom tonight (NZT).