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France's Peschier wins gold in kayak
August 20, 2004 19:40 IST
Benoit Peschier was aggressive and precise while a British medal hopeful was timid when the French dominated the men's slalom Olympic kayaking on Friday.
Peschier won the gold and world champion Fabien Lefevre the bronze with Briton Campbell Walsh splitting the pair after a timing error originally marked him as the bronze winner.
Fans and paddlers were scratching their heads as race officials had to sort through the major timing error.
Peschier could not have cared less about the glitch, as he beat his main rival on the French team as well as Walsh of Glasgow, Scotland, who had been the class act of the field through three runs down the ferocious white water course.
"I was able to be precise, down to the centimetre, going through the course," Peschier said.
He said the strong performance in kayaking may take some of the sting out of France's disappointing performance in the last football World Cup.
"We well may have had some disappointment at the World Cup, but today we reached the top," he said.
Peschier, whose father was also a star paddler, won two events in kayaking's World Cup in 2001.
Walsh said he felt gold was in reach when he entered the course in the finals with the best time but he then seemed to take his foot off the accelerator.
"I feel that I really didn't give it my all that run. I held back a bit," Walsh.
As for the timing error blamed on a technical glitch at the start and finish gates, Walsh joined the confused masses.
"I don't have a clue what went on," he said.