Tokyo – Slovenian canoeist Benjamin Savšek convincingly won the men’s C-1 slalom on Monday to earn the first gold medal for Slovenia at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the second overall medal for the country.
With no penalty seconds, the 34-year-old finished 3.71 seconds ahead of the second-placed Lukaš Rohan of the Czech Republic and 5.45 seconds ahead of the bronze medallist, Sideris Tasiadis of Germany.
This is already a second medal at the Tokyo Olympics for Slovenia after the bronze medal by cyclist Tadej Pogačar in the men’s road race on Saturday, and the 25th overall medal for the country at the Summer Olympics.
Savšek, who has won seven world championship medals and ten European championship medals, earned his first Olympic medal to crown the successful career, after finishing sixth in Rio in 2016 and eighth in London in 2012.
“My first thought was that I managed an excellent run in the finals. A sleepless night is behind me. I finally got the monkey off my back, I had been working hard for this for a long time,” he told the national television after the win.
“The course was demanding, I already had a lot of work in the semi-finals, so I focused in the final on making a run without touches, and I managed this. I really fought at the last three gates and when I saw the time the emotions took over.”
This is the sixth gold medal for Slovenia at the Summer Olympics and the first gold in kayak/canoe, after Andraž Vehovar and Peter Kauter won silvers in kayak in Atlanta 1996 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016, respectively.
“This means a lot to me. This is the only medal that I needed to complete my collection. What is missing is the first place overall in the World Cup, but this outweighs everything,” Savšek said.