KYNAN Maley has had the race of his life in the final of the men's C1 slalom at the Lee Valley White Water Centre, finishing sixth.
His second run on the white water course today, after finishing eighth in the semi-final, Maley executed a clean run clear of penalties to finish in a total time of 107.08 seconds.
First out of the gate, he then had seven more athletes to watch to find out his eventual place - in what was a nail-biting race for the medals.
As the next few paddlers negotiated the course it became evident that despite the valiant Aussie's superb effort in pulling of a clean run, the time would be too slow to put him on the podium.
"It [the time] was slower than some of the ones with penalties," Maley said. "I just got stuck through the middle - didn't quite get the boat moving or tracking through the moves but there was a lot of good stuff so I'll take that into the C2."
But, medal or not, Maley was incredibly pleased with his performance and overwhelmed by his Olympic final experience.
"I've got so many emotions going through me," the 30-year-old West Australian said. "I'm incredibly happy with that result, I didn't quite get the run out that I was capable of but I'm happy to have got that close.
"It was an amazing experience for me and just great to be a part of this whole final. The top guys paddled, just did amazing runs. I didn't quite get mine out there today but came close in the field and it was fantastic."
The 'top guys' refers to the highly decorated European paddlers who have dominated canoe slalom for over a decade.
Dual Olympic Champion Michal Martikan of Slovakia set the pace, as the first athlete to finish sub 100 in a cracking time of 98.31. It seemed that he was lining up for his third gold before another dual Olympic Champion in Frenchman Tony Estanguet challenged him for the honour, flying home in 97.06.
With two paddlers still remaining, the tension amongst the 12,000-strong crowd was palpable.
As Slovenian Benjamin Savsek crashed out of contention it came down to just one last athlete. The fastest qualifier into the final, German Sideris Tasiadis, blitzed the course in 98.09 to finish with silver ahead of Martikan. Estanguet secured gold - his third having already won in 2000 and 2004.
Maley will now have a rest day before returning to the course on Thursday to contest the C2 semi-final with his partner Robin Jeffery, and he couldn't be more excited.
"We already had heaps of motivation but now I'm as keen as ever!"
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.