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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES | SPRINT KAYAK

The Fischer Queen: Six Golds

September 30, 2000|From Associated Press

Birgit Fischer became kayaking's all-time leading Olympic medal-winner with nine today and tied the German record for most career golds with six, and Knut Holmann became Norway's greatest summer Olympian.

Fischer won the women's four for the second consecutive time and third in four Olympics to tie swimmer Kristin Otto and Reiner Klimke of equestrian for most golds by a German. She can break the tie Sunday in the women's two.

The United States finished sixth in the 1,000-meter four-man kayak finals, never leading in a race filled with world champions. Making the finals was a first for the Americans.

The U.S. boat, which led halfway through its qualifying heat, was fifth after 500 meters and dropped to sixth by 750. The quad crossed the finish more than four seconds behind gold-winner Hungary and was 2.28 seconds behind Poland for the bronze. Germany won silver.

The Cuban-born Angel Perez was a big reason the Americans were even in the finals, although as recently as last week he didn't expect to be in the boat. He was so convinced he had lost his eligibility battle that he packed his suitcases.

Perez's problem was being a U.S. citizen for only one year, two fewer than Olympic rules require. But the Court of Arbitration for Sport let him in after he argued that he gave up his Cuban citizenship when he defected in 1993. The CAS later dismissed an appeal by Cuba.

Perez represented his homeland in the 1992 Olympics, but his medal chances were shattered by a broken paddle. He fled a year later, became a U.S. resident in 1995 and started competing internationally again in '97.

The K-4 featuring Perez, Peter Newton, Stein Jorgensen and John Mooney was considered the best chance for the United States to win its first kayaking medal since 1992.

Perez and Newton will try again Sunday in the 500-meter K-2.

Fischer, 38, also extended her record for the longest span between golds by a woman. Her first title came 20 years ago in Moscow in the K-1.

Finishing second to Holmann was Bulgaria's Petar Merkov, who may not get to keep his silver medal because of alleged substance abuse.

The International Canoe Federation has asked the International Olympic Committee to help track down results of tests taken at the Bulgarian national championships in late July.

ICF President Ulrich Feldhoff said he's "absolutely convinced" Merkov tested positive for a diuretic banned because it masks steroid use. Merkov is scheduled to compete in two more finals Sunday.

Holmann won his second consecutive gold in the men's solo 1,000. It was his fifth Olympic medal, topping the career total of wrestler Jon Roenningen.

Italy's Antonio Rossi, who won golds in both K-2 events in Atlanta, defended his 1,000-meter title with Beniamino Bonomi.

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