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Slovaks dive into Olympics

THE WATER has been the site of many of Slovakia's moving moments at this month's Athens Olympic Games.
Under the watchful eye of Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič, brothers Peter and Pavol Hochschorner proved the undisputed champions in the canoe slalom double, repeating their gold from Sydney.
In the women's kayak slalom single, Elena Kaliská took gold when she finished almost five seconds ahead of Rebecca Giddens of the US and 8.5 seconds better than Helen Reeves of Great Britain.

THE WATER has been the site of many of Slovakia's moving moments at this month's Athens Olympic Games.

Under the watchful eye of Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič, brothers Peter and Pavol Hochschorner proved the undisputed champions in the canoe slalom double, repeating their gold from Sydney.

In the women's kayak slalom single, Elena Kaliská took gold when she finished almost five seconds ahead of Rebecca Giddens of the US and 8.5 seconds better than Helen Reeves of Great Britain.

Michal Martikán, meanwhile, was awarded a controversial silver medal in the men's canoe slalom singles. Martikán, who took gold in Atlanta in 1996 and silver in Sydney in 2000, scored the fastest time in the race, but after a protest from the French team he was penalised for touching a gate during his run. Though the Slovak team says the race video shows no collision, it seems unlikely that the judges will reverse their decision.

Jozef Krnáč took silver in the 66 kilograms and under judo competition, losing to Masato Uchishiba from Japan. His medal is the first in judo since Slovakia and the Czech Republic separated in 1993.

With his final shot in the men's 10-metre air rifle, Slovak top shooter Jozef Gönci managed to beat Korea's Cheon Min-ho for the bronze medal. Gönci has twice held the title of the world's best shooter, and won bronze in the 50-metre rifle prone in Atlanta. In the Athens Games, however, he failed to regain this medal, losing to Sergey Martynov of Belarus.

Martina Moravcová, a swimmer who won two silver medals at the Sydney Olympics and has set three world and nearly 200 Slovak records, gave a solid but un-awarded performance in Athens. She placed sixth in the 100-metre butterfly and failed to qualify for the 200-metre freestyle, her two best events, and finished seventh in the 100-metre freestyle.

Slovakia's last hope for a gold medal in Athens is likely the men's flat-water 1,000-metre kayak four on August 27, for which the Slovak team (Richard Riszdorfer, Michal Riszdorfer, Erik Vlček, and Juraj Bača) were ranked first after the first round. The team has not lost a single race in over two years.

As The Slovak Spectator went to print, Slovakia had a total of two gold medals, two silver, and one bronze, placing it 21st in the world. In Sydney, Slovakia's medal count was one gold, three silver, and a bronze.

Compiled from press reports

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