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Page last updated at 20:02 GMT, Monday, 15 February 2010

Didier Defago powers to men's downhill gold medal

Defago wins dramatic downhill gold

Swiss Didier Defago hurtled to gold in the men's Olympic downhill final with a blisteringly fast run in Whistler.

In an incredibly tight field Defago finished only 0.07 seconds ahead of Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal.

American Bode Miller was 0.09 seconds behind Defago, taking bronze after setting the early pace with a stunning eighth run of the day.

Favourite Didier Cuche was sixth while Canadian hopeful Manuel Osborne-Paradis was well off the pace in 17th.

The flagship event was delayed by two days because of adverse conditions in Whistler, but the gathering crowd were thrilled by the tightly fought competition - which ended with the tightest podium finish in downhill history.

After three Olympics and a lot of championships, I think my experience made the difference

Didier Defago

Defago, who won the classic Kitzbuehel/Wengen double last year, claimed his first Olympic medal with a time of 1 minute 54.31 seconds, beating countrymen Cuche and Carlo Janka, who had been expected to compete for a podium spot.

"I'm very happy. It was a crazy run, not very easy because it was very different from the training," said Defago, who at the age of 32 years and 136 days is the oldest men's downhill gold medal winner.

"I really wanted to go back home with a medal. After three Olympics and a lot of championships, I think my experience made the difference."

Miller, who won two silvers at the Salt Lake Games in 2002, but flopped badly at the Turin Games in 2006, laid down the gauntlet to the world's best downhillers with his early run.

Defending overall World Cup champion Svindal edged ahead of Miller by 0.02 seconds to win his first Olympic medal but it was not enough to hold off Defago.

Downhill win delights Defago

Team GB's Ed Drake said he was "pretty pleased" with his 38th place finish on his Olympic debut.

"It's really cool to get stuck in. It was great fun, I loved it," said Drake, from Kingston-on-Thames, who returns to action on Tuesday in the men's super combined.

"I would like to have finished in the top 30, but a top 40 is good -­ it was better than my bib number,"

"I skied well. I made a couple of mistakes, but I'm pretty pleased with my performance. It was a great course; it's got a bit of everything.

"This is the biggest stage there is and I'm representing my country. It can't get much better than that, apart from winning a medal.

"With me it's not about the here and now, it's about what's coming and what I expect over the next four years and beyond."

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see also
As it happened - Winter Olympics day four
15 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Men's downhill skiing postponed
13 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Women's combined event postponed
12 Feb 10 |  Alpine skiing
Whistler's weather woes explained
14 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Alpine skiing: Downhill
03 Nov 09 |  Alpine skiing
Day-by-day guide to the Winter Olympics
26 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010

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ESPN Star Vancouver Olympics Day 5 Round Up - 25 mins ago
Irish Independent Winter Olympics: Old master Defago makes experience count in blue riband triumph - 13 hrs ago
Kuwait Times Swiss steals thunder as China break duck - 15 hrs ago
Daily News South AfricaDefago zooms past famous Swiss teammates - 16 hrs ago
Frontier Post Vancouver Winter Games Chinese pair win figure skating gold - 16 hrs ago
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