Olympic Games: Canoeing: British silver in the water

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The Independent Online
Gareth Marriott of Great Britain set the fastest time of the day in the second of his two runs in the C1 category of the slalom canoeing at La Seu d'Urgell yesterday, but one penalty gate denied him the gold medal.

The 22-year-old Nottingham man, the World Cup champion and one of several pre-Games slalom medal prospects for Britain, raced through in 111.48 seconds, more than two seconds faster than the Czech gold medallist Lukas Pollert, a 22-year-old medical student. However, Marriott, who won last year's pre-Olympic race at this site, had to be content with the silver when he clipped a pole at Gate 13 which cost him a five seconds penalty.

Pollert also had a clear second run through the twisting 340 metre course in 113.69 seconds but must have been anxious as Marriott stormed through the first 12 of the 25 gates in a superb time. Unfortunately when he touched the next gate he was always fighting a losing battle.

His frustration was clear as he looked up at the scoreboard at the end of his run and waved five fingers in the air, indicating that the penalty had cost him dearly.

Marriott, who had had a poor first run, was convinced he had won and said later: 'I couldn't believe it, I thought they had made a mistake. I did not realise I had touched a gate until the five seconds penalty came up on the scoreboard.

'I'm told the back end of the boat just touched the gate but I felt nothing and I thought I had had a clean race. The whole idea is to get down clean. Lukas did that and took the gold so good luck to him.

'There were not many gates I was even near to and I was so confident I was clean. But when I saw that five penalty up on the board I knew I had no chance of the gold.'

Jacky Avril, of France, who had a clear first run in 117.18sec won the bronze, while five-times world champion, Jon Lugbill of the United States, went clear second time on the water but could only record a best time of 118.62.

Lynn Simpson, Karen Like and Rachel Fox came 10th, 13th and 16th respectively in the women's K1 slalom event.