St. John's Jesuit High School graduate Scott Parsons saw his dreams of capturing a medal in men's whitewater kayaking end on Sunday at the London Olympics.
Parsons finished 16th in the preliminaries of men's slalom kayak (K1) and failed to advance to the semifinals.
Parsons, who grew up in Sylvania, was unable to advance past Sunday's heats. The three-time Olympian posted his best time of 94.6 seconds in the first run of the day.
The time was good for 13th in the heat, but Parsons was unable to improve upon it in the second run and three paddlers passed him up.
He finished just one spot out of the final qualifying slot. The top 15 boats in the men's K1 advanced to Wednesday's semifinals.
Penalties for missing a gate and hitting another cost Parsons a shot at a medal.
He finished his second run in 141.72, which included 52 seconds worth of penalty time (50 seconds for missing one gate and two seconds for touching another). Without the penalty for narrowly missing the gate, he would have finished 15th overall during a chilly, windy day at the Waltham Cross course just north of London.
"The first run had a lot of good bits," Parsons said. "I had two kind of slow sections that made the run as a whole not very competitive, which is too bad. I was happy with about 90 percent of the first run, it was just that 10 percent that really sort of pushed the time up.
"For the most part, a lot of the [second] run was really good and the atmosphere here is incredible, so I had a great time actually."
Parsons, 33, was representing the United States for the third time in the Olympics.
In 2004, he just missed appearing on the podium, finishing sixth at the Games in Athens. In 2008, Parsons became a favorite to medal but slipped to 20th after missing a gate on the whitewater course in Beijing.
The fastest of the two runs for each athlete counted on Sunday. Parsons best time was 10.67 seconds behind leader Hannes Aigner of Germany.
Parsons missed Gate No. 8 in his second run.
"It was a downstream on the left part of the current that I was a little late for and I had to do a little maneuvering to make sure I was in," he said.
William Irving, the director of the USA Canoe/Kayak national team, said Parson would have earned a spot in the semis if he had not missed the gate in his second run.
"Scott had a decent first run, but needed to clean it up and just get fast," Irving said. "But I definitely thought that the second run would be good enough in order to make it in. He still had some room for improvement on that run, it's just a shame that he did not make the gate. It would have been fast enough to make it into the semis. It wasn't a great run, but it would have been enough to make it in."
Parsons had hoped that the third time was the charm for an Olympic medal. But he could not finish among the top 15 among a field of 22 boats.
The goal in the whitewater event is to negotiate a 300-meter course consisting of 18 to 25 gates in the shortest amount of time, with time added for penalties. Boats go one at a time and race against the clock.
Last month, Parsons said he had the chance to paddle the course in London last October. He said it was similar to the course that he raced in Beijing and estimated it to take 90 to 105 seconds to complete.
Parsons said it's a hefty, but a welcome responsibility to represent his country.
"We are kind of a sport of individuals," he said. "The Olympics is a cool event because it's a departure from that and it's pretty fun to be a part of something bigger than yourself. It's an honor and privilege to be a part of Team USA."
Parsons, who now lives in Bethesda, Md., said his Olympic experience has been enjoyable.
"It's been so much fun, just a really good relaxed atmosphere," Parsons said. "The village has been really cool, the venue is incredible, the crowd has been fantastic [on Sunday]. The whole experience so far has been really, really good, and I'm actually looking forward to the next week or so of hopefully watching some other events."