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Slovakia's paddlers strike gold.

8/15/2008 3:43:04 PM

Slovakia's brother pairing of Pavol and Peter Hochschorner won their third straight Olympic gold medal in double canoe slalom, becoming the first paddlers to reach the top of any whitewater podium three times.

Then they had some help adding to the country's medal haul.

Slovakia's Elena Kaliska dazzled and dominated on two flawless runs and won gold in women's single kayak slalom by nearly 15 seconds, successfully defending her top finish at Athens.

"We made all the nation happy,'' Kaliska said though a translator.

"All across, fans are part of the success.''

Kaliska led entering the finals and caught a break when two top contenders had shaky rides down the challenging rapids.

Her combined time of 192.64 seconds was 14.3 seconds ahead of silver, Jacqueline Lawrence of Australia in 206.94.

Violetta Oblinger Peters of Austria won bronze in 214.77.

Kaliska punched her first in the air in the finishing pool and blew a kiss to the cheering crowd.

Her winning margin is almost unheard of in a sport where the outcome is usually decided by a couple of seconds.

"I didn't look at the other races before I started,'' Kaliska said. "I was sure I had to run with no mistakes.''

Brothers make it three

The Hochschorner brothers had 4 penalty seconds and were in second place after the semifinal, but posted the best combined time of 190.82 seconds to earn another set of whitewater medals to add to their collection from the Sydney Games and Athens.

"I think it's nice, but it's the same,'' said Pavol Hochschorner.

Jaroslav Volf and Ondrej Stepanek of the Czech Republic took the silver medal, finishing 2.07 seconds behind the brothers.

Mikhail Kuznetsov and Dmitry Larionov of Russia won the bronze in 197.37.

The Russians raised their oars over their head and pumped their fists, then floated around the finishing pool and gazed at the scoreboard to see they were the leaders, temporarily.

Volf and Stepanek went next, and then the brothers took on the unrelenting waves.

The German team of Michel Felix and Sebastian Piersig led after the semifinal and went last, but they could not recover once their canoe capsized and finished sixth.

"It was bad luck for them, but we were happy,'' said Peter Hochschorner.

When asked if there would be a fourth gold medal, Pavol leaned into the microphone with a big smile and said, "Of course.''

They had a better performance than the top women.

Stepanka Hilgertova of the Czech Republic, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, capsized in her kayak and was ninth.

Germany's Jennifer Bongardt, who shares the world No. 1 ranking with Hilgertova, missed two gates and failed to qualify for the final.

This was the last of five days of slalom events before it shifts next week across Shunyi Rowing-Canoeing Park to the flatwater course.

A[umlaut] 2003 - 2008

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Date:Aug 17, 2008
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