Jones scrapes into canoe slalom semifinals

JONATHAN MILLMOW IN LONDON
Last updated 05:50 31/07/2012
Luuka Jones
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

BY THE SKIN OF THE TEETH: A best time of 109.23sec, including penalties, was just enough for New Zealand's Luuka Jones to reach the canoe slalom semifinals, grabbing the 15th and final spot.

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New Zealand slalom canoeist Luuka Jones has snuck into the semifinals of the women's K1 kayak by the skin of the teeth.

The 23 year-old from Tauranga claimed the 15th and final semifinal spot despite an error ridden performance at the Olympic event north of London this morning.

Jones touched three gates on her first run and missed three gates on her second but with only 21 starters and 15 semifinal spots on offer she was able to sneak through.

Her first run time was actually the sixth fastest but each touch brings a two second penalty so it ballooned out to 10th fastest  at 109.23sec.

Jones tried to improve on her second run but she was hit with a 50 second penalty for missing gate 10, then missed gate 20 as well and gave up at that point and bypassed gate 21 and cruised to the finish line.

She then had to chew her fingernails while those behind her after the first run looked to knock her out. Fortunately for her she wound up 15th, 10.48sec behind top qualifier Maialen Chourraut of Spain.

Jones said she wanted to put the day behind her.

"My speed was really good I just need to be cleaner," she said.

"I had three touches on my first run and one of those was the finest touch on the nose of my boat.

"The second run was disappointing. I wanted to go faster than the first, or at least match it, but not have the six seconds of penalties but..."

Jones admitted to a bout of nerves in front of another near capacity crowd.

"I was a bit nervous and a bit hesitant and sometime when you are just off line the water can push you up into the pole."

The semifinal is on Friday morning (NZ time) with the fastest 10 paddlers progressing to the final later in the day.

Jones is in no doubt she can make the final.

"Definitely. I know my run speed is there, I just have to keep it clean."

Fellow k1 kayaker Mike Dawson is also through to semifinal, which is on Thursday morning (NZ time).

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- Fairfax Media

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