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Page last updated at 10:45 GMT, Tuesday, 12 August 2008 11:45 UK

Grimm wins Germany's first gold

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Video - Grimm win thwarts Irish medal hope

Alexander Grimm claimed Germany's first gold medal of the Beijing Games by winning the men's single kayak slalom.

His combined time of 171.70 seconds saw him finish ahead of France's Fabien Lefevre and Benjamin Boukpeti of Togo.

Boukpeti's bronze was Togo's first ever Olympic medal - and he snapped his paddle in half during the wild celebrations that followed his feat.

Grimm produced an error-free final run, taking the difficult upstream gates smoothly, to move from fourth to first.

But despite Grimm's impressive efforts, the biggest cheer from the packed crowd was reserved for world number 56 Boukpeti.

He had surprisingly led after the first run and held on for bronze, finishing 5.21 seconds ahead of Ireland's Eoin Rheinisch in fourth.

"I can hardly believe it but I'm not surprised," said Boukpeti, who became the first non-European male kayaker to win an Olympic slalom medal.

Born in France to a French mother and Togoese father, Boukpeti, 27, sought to compete for the west African nation when it became clear that he was too old to have a real shot of making the French team.

"Unfortunately, I've only ever been once to Togo, when I was very little, because my mother wanted to present me to my grandmother," said Boukpeti, who lives in Toulouse.

"But now I think I have a very good reason to go."

Rheinisch said he was "heartbroken" after missing out on a podium finish.

"One error is what cost me a medal, but I was really fortunate to come this far, he said.

"I can't complain, I've been riding my luck to get just through each heat to the final."

France's Lefevre went into the final as favourite, after Slovenia's Peter Kauzer had failed to qualify, but he struggled in the upper part of the course.

"I didn't have that little bit of excellence that I had earlier in the season," said Lefevre.

"I don't have any regrets, but I'm a bit disappointed because I was hoping to get France's first gold medal."

see also
GB's Walsh & Florence reach semis
11 Aug 08 |  Canoeing
British canoeists' golden glint
03 Aug 08 |  Canoeing
Kayak pair finally named for GB
18 Jul 08 |  Canoeing
Hemmings into Olympic qualifiers
05 May 08 |  Canoeing
Team GB for Beijing
21 Jul 08 |  Team GB

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