Review needed to determine men's race winner

ATHENS, Greece -- If not for two seconds, Michal Martikan
would have reclaimed his Olympic title from Tony Estanguet.

Estanguet won the gold medal Wednesday in the canoeing single
slalom after a post-race review gave Martikan of Slovakia a
two-second penalty, making the total time for the 1996 Atlanta
Games champion 189.28 seconds.

France's Estanguet finished in 189.16, giving him his second
consecutive gold medal in the event.

Later, American Rebecca Giddens won the silver medal in the
kayaking single slalom, finishing well behind Elena Kaliska of
Slovakia. Helen Reeves of Britain took the bronze.

Martikan, the final competitor in his race, appeared to finish
first when he crossed the line in a time of 187.28. Several
flag-waving fans, who followed him on foot as he moved down the
course, began cheering. Martikan raised his arms and paddle in the
air and was announced the winner.

Several minutes later, with the women's race having taken center
stage, officials released the new results.

International Canoe Federation official Andre Luiz Behs said the
penalty had been recorded by a race official, but had not been
properly transferred.

"There was a clear penalty,'' Behs said. It
was "not transmitted through the electronic system.''

The review period continued for several more minutes before the
gold was officially awarded to Estanguet. Martikan had to settle
for his second straight silver, and Stefan Pfannmoeller of Germany
took the bronze in 191.56.

Giddens was in fourth place going into the kayaking final, then
turned in a run of 107.06 seconds to take the overall lead at
214.62. But Kaliska, racing last, easily beat her with a 106.29
that gave her a two-race total of 210.03.

Estanguet was delighted with his win.

"I was at my best. I paddled as I needed to, and that makes me
want to continue until Beijing 2008,'' he said.

Estanguet and Martikan were neck-and-neck throughout the
competition. On Tuesday, Martikan beat Estanguet by 0.09 seconds
over two preliminary races. In the semifinal, Martikan also edged
Estanguet to take a 0.12-second lead into the final.