Men's and women's heats and quarterfinals across four canoe/kayak events unfolded on a particularly hot Wednesday at the Tokyo Olympics' Sea Forest Waterway. The competitions saw neck-and-neck finishes, surprise eliminations, and even a particularly unfortunate capsizing.
Men's K-1 200m Sprint Quarterfinals
Three quarterfinal races with 15 total competitors led to six kayakers qualifying for the semifinals. Of those moving onto the next round, five finished in 35 seconds and some change. But Great Britain's muscular Liam Heath -- who won gold in the event at Rio 2016, and silver in the K-2 200m -- sliced through the water as though he were attacking an enemy, crossing the finish line in 33.985 seconds.
Unfortunately, the quarterfinals didn't go as smoothly for the Cook Islands' Kohl Horton. Moments after starting, Horton capsized and ended with a DNF.
Women's C-1 200m Sprint Quarterfinals
The USA's biggest name in canoe/kayak, Nevin Harrison set an Olympic best in her debut heat with a 44.938 finish -- which, to be fair, is because it was the first time this particular distance was contested. Just 19 years old and with a World Championship gold beneath her belt, Harrison has a promising future -- and may earn her country's only Tokyo 2020 canoe/kayak medal.
Two other big names to look out for as possible medal contenders: Spain's Anita Jacome, who finished in 45.668 seconds, and Chile's Maria Mailliard, who finished the quarterfinal about a half-second later.
Women's K-1 500m Sprint Quarterfinals
Twelve kayakers from 11 countries are headed to the event's semifinals, with Ukraine fielding two athletes. If the quarterfinals are any indication, this event may showcase some of the closest canoe/kayak races at Tokyo 2020: Keep an eye on China's Yin Mengdie (1:49.268), the Russian Olympic Committee's Svetlana Chernigovskaya (1:49.323), and Belgium's Lize Broekx (1:49.336).
Men's K-2 1000m Sprint Quarterfinals
New Zealand's Max Brown and Kurtis Imrie and Australia's Riley Fitzsimmons and Jordan Wood are heading for a showdown after the former finished less than half a second ahead of the latter in the quarterfinals. They'll need to find a way to squeak past the pairing of Belarus' Mikita Borykau and Aleh Yurenia, who led by less than 0.1 of a second.