Britain’s Ed McKeever said he finally deserves comparisons with the fastest man in the world after winning gold in the 200m sprint kayak.
The 28-year-old had previously been dismissive of his nickname “the Usain Bolt of the water”, claiming it was undeserved.
But after winning gold at Eton Dorney in front of Prime Minister David Cameron, the trainee accountant from Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, said he was now willing to accept comparisons with the Jamaican sprinter.
Speaking after the race, McKeever – who started kayaking as a cub scout at the age of 10 – said: “It was a little bit frustrating watching everybody else medal for the first two weeks while we were sat in our hotel rooms watching.
“It’s difficult to describe but there was almost a sense of relief crossing the finish line that I had done it and put a smile on the British faces.
“To be honest I ignored (the comparisons to Bolt) most of the time and just dismissed it. But luckily I have got a gold medal as well now so I am more willing to accept it.”
Like Bolt, McKeever – who hits the water three times a second with his paddle - destroyed the rest of the field, winning the final by 0.3 of a second ahead of Spain’s Saul Craviotto Rivero.
Brendan Purcell, head coach of sprint squad, said the 200m race suited McKeever’s rock solid strength in his core muscles.
He said: “You have got to have balance and core strength to hit the water at such a rapid rate and not tip the boat.
“You have got to create force and if your body crumples you are not going to do that. Ed creates force in a very short period of time. Those guys are travelling at six metres a second so a gap of 0.3 seconds is actually a significant margin.
“Without sounding cocky, I thought that after yesterday’s races somebody was going to have to do something very special to beat Ed. He was totally up for it and in the zone.”
There was also medal joy for the two-man sprint kayak crew of Liam Heath and Jon Schofield, who picked up bronze.
The pair, who came together in 2010, only managed to scrape through to the final yesterday after enduring a torrid day on the water.
Speaking after today’s race, Schofield, from Clitheroe, Lancashire, said he was glad they could turn their performance around in time.
The 27-year-old said: “Yesterday was the most horrible day of my career. We really raced badly yesterday and you can’t come to the Olympics and race badly.
“It was almost business as usual to see Ed come out and medal and we knew we had to get out and do our bit.”
Meanwhile, Heath – who knows over 150 different cocktail recipes – plans to create a British Olympic concoction.
“I haven’t been able to do any cocktails for obvious reasons,” the 27-year-old from Guildford, Surrey, said.
“I’ll have to think about it but it will have to be red, white and blue.”
But while there was jubilation on the men’s side of the camp today, there was disappointment for Jess Walker in the final of the women’s 200m sprint kayak.
She finished in seventh place, and now plans to think again about whether to compete in such a short race.
The 22-year-old, from Hampton Hill, London, said: “I enjoyed the race. I think I may give the K1 500m a go.
“I think I might try and fight for that over the next four years. There are some girls out there who just train for the 200m and don’t reach the finals.
“If you’re just training for one event it’s quite a big risk.”