Alexander Grimm of Germany on Tuesday won the Olympic canoeing slalom kayak single (K1) title in Beijing, winning his country's first gold medal at Beijing Olympics.
Alexander Grimm [xinhua]
The world number three won the close racing with a combined result of 171.70 seconds, 1.60 seconds ahead of Fabien Lefevre of France, bronze medalist in Athens.
Benjamin Boukpeti of Togo took the bronze with a time of 173.45, winning the first medal for the small western African country .
Grimm, who won a World Cup title in 2007, finished only fourth in the semifinal, but a good-form in the final helped him to stand on the top of the podium.
"It was my dream since I was a small child," the 22-year-old German said. "Everything just worked today. I've achieved my goal."
The gold came as a little surprise for Grimm. "I knew it was enough for a medal but I didn't know it was enough for Gold," the German said. "If you try and gamble on this course then you are more than likely going to lose."
"There wasn't that spark of magic in order to move the boat the right way and be excellent in the water," said Lefevre. "(But) to be on the podium is something fantastic. It was a brilliant race."
But at the press conference after the racing, Boukpeti grabbed most of the media attention.
Asked what the first ever Olympic gold means for Togo, Boukpeti said:"I don't really know yet what this represents, I just tried my best and paddled very hard."
Boukpeti said he started young for the French team, but the hard selection process and injuries left him with little choice but to try for the Togo team.
"I suffered injuries and once I recovered I was too old for the French team. Because of this I decided to try for the Togo team."
Boukpeti was born in France, but his two sisters were born in Togo where his mother, a Frenchwoman, met his Togoles father and got married. He and another brother were born in France.
"Unfortunately, I've only been to Togo once when I was very young, but now I have a very good reason to go back," he said.
(Xinhua News Agency August 12, 2008)