Review needed to determine men's race winner

Updated: August 18, 2004, 10:28 AM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- If not for two seconds, Michal Martikan would have reclaimed his Olympic title from Tony Estanguet.

Estanguet won the gold medal Wednesday in the canoeing single slalom after a post-race review gave Martikan of Slovakia a two-second penalty, making the total time for the 1996 Atlanta Games champion 189.28 seconds.

France's Estanguet finished in 189.16, giving him his second consecutive gold medal in the event.

Later, American Rebecca Giddens won the silver medal in the kayaking single slalom, finishing well behind Elena Kaliska of Slovakia. Helen Reeves of Britain took the bronze.

Martikan, the final competitor in his race, appeared to finish first when he crossed the line in a time of 187.28. Several flag-waving fans, who followed him on foot as he moved down the course, began cheering. Martikan raised his arms and paddle in the air and was announced the winner.

Several minutes later, with the women's race having taken center stage, officials released the new results.

International Canoe Federation official Andre Luiz Behs said the penalty had been recorded by a race official, but had not been properly transferred.

"There was a clear penalty,'' Behs said. It was "not transmitted through the electronic system.''

The review period continued for several more minutes before the gold was officially awarded to Estanguet. Martikan had to settle for his second straight silver, and Stefan Pfannmoeller of Germany took the bronze in 191.56.

Giddens was in fourth place going into the kayaking final, then turned in a run of 107.06 seconds to take the overall lead at 214.62. But Kaliska, racing last, easily beat her with a 106.29 that gave her a two-race total of 210.03.

Estanguet was delighted with his win.

"I was at my best. I paddled as I needed to, and that makes me want to continue until Beijing 2008,'' he said.

Estanguet and Martikan were neck-and-neck throughout the competition. On Tuesday, Martikan beat Estanguet by 0.09 seconds over two preliminary races. In the semifinal, Martikan also edged Estanguet to take a 0.12-second lead into the final.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press