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OLYMPIC WINDOW: Seeing is believing for Slovakia's Martikán

Michal Martikán's bitter memories prompted the Slovak to wait until the Olympic gold medal was actually placed around his neck before accepting he had won it.

Michal Martikán's bitter memories prompted the Slovak to wait until the Olympic gold medal was actually placed around his neck before accepting he had won it.

In Athens four years ago, Martikán joyfully celebrated what he thought was victory in the men's canoe single, but 20 minutes later found he had been penalised after a late review that relegated him to second place by a narrow margin.

On August 12, he stayed quiet until he was called to stand on the gold medal podium in Beijing.

"This time, you didn’t see me exploding with joy at the finish line because that didn’t bring me luck in Athens," Martikán told reporters. "After the Athens experience, I preferred to wait until actually receiving the medal."

Britain's David Florence won the silver medal and Robin Bell of Australia took the bronze. Martikán won his first Olympic gold in 1996 at the age of 17 but lost out twice in a row to France's Tony Estanguet and had to settle for silver in both 2000 and 2004. His 1996 gold made him the first Olympic champion from Slovakia after it became independent from Czechoslovakia. In 1995, at the age of 16, he became the youngest canoe slalom World Cup winner.

"I don't want to finish. I hope I will have a chance to compete in the Olympics in London (in 2012)," said the 29-year-old.

Slovakia is now 14th on the medal chart, having achieved one gold and one silver medal.

Factbox on Michal Martikán:

Age: 29 (date of birth: May 18, 1979)
Place of birth: Liptovský Mikuláš
Career achievements: Gold medalist at World Championships in 1997, 2002, 2003 and 2007 (individual) and 1997 and 2003 (team)

Previous Olympic result: Gold medalist at 1996 Olympics (canoe single); silver medalist at 2000 Olympics (canoe single); silver medalist at 2004 Olympics (canoe single). Reuters

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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