Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): Eton Dorney, Windsor
Date Started: August 7, 2012
Date Finished: August 8, 2012
As holders of the last two Olympic titles, Hungarians [Katalin KovÃ¡cs] and [Natasa Douchev-Janics] were the team to beat in the womenâs K-2 500 at the 2012 Summer Olympics and each had an outstanding record in sprint canoeing. Douchev-Janics was also the winner of the K-1 500 at the 2004 Olympics and had a silver medal from the K-4 500 in 2008, but her record at the World Championships was even more impressive: 22 medals, 18 of which were gold, since 2002. She had taken 2011 off while pregnant, but returned in full form the following season, winning the K-1 and K-2 500m at the 2012 European Championships. Astonishingly, however, Douchev-Janicsâ record paled in comparison to her partnerâs: KovÃ¡cs had six Olympics medals, two gold and four silver, and 40 medals, 31 of them gold, at the World Championships, spanning back to 1998. Her pace had not slowed in recent years either, as she had earned two gold medals at the most recent World Championships and three more at the 2011 European Championships. The German duo of [Franziska Weber] and [Tina Dietze] had shown some promise in recent years and were perhaps best poised to challenge their canoeing rivals, the Hungarians. They were runners-up in the K-2 500 at the most recent World Championships, losing to the Austrians, but had had a strong season in the lead up the Olympics, whereas the Austrian duo of [Yvonne Schuring] and [Vicki Schwarz] had waned somewhat.
A surprise came in the heats when the unknown Chinese team of [Wu Yanan] and [Zhou Yu] posted a time of over half a second faster than the Hungarians. The Chinese team were held back to a still-impressive third-fastest time in the semi-finals, while the Hungarians were outclassed once again, this time by the Germans. In the finals, Weber and Dietze held nothing back and led through the entire race, with the Hungarians unable to match them at any point in the course. The Germans thus broke KovÃ¡cs and Douchev-Janicsâ streak in this event, getting their revenge on KovÃ¡cs who, with her squad, had earned the Olympic K-4 500 title the day before, which had been held by the Germans since 1996. Hungary was forced to settle for sliver while Poland, paddled by [Karolina Naja] and [Beata MikoÅajczyk], edged out China for the bronze by 0.136 seconds. It was Najaâs first Olympic medal and a second for MikoÅajczyk, who had been runner up in the event in 2008 alongside [Aneta Pastuszka-Konieczna].