Olympics: Friedli retires after coming ninth in kayak final
The Swiss canoeist Sandra Friedli has announced her retirement from international competition after finishing ninth in the women's individual kayak slalom, missing out on an Olympic diploma by less than half a second.
Friedli was lying in sixth place after the first run, but was almost seven seconds slower on her final run, thanks to a number of penalties.
The primary school teacher from Schaffhausen was taught a lesson in paddling by Stepanka Hilgertova. The Czech athlete finished almost five seconds ahead of the field to take the gold medal. The French women Brigitte Guibal and Anne-Lise Bardet took silver and bronze respectively.
Friedli's performance was an improvement on her last Olympic outing in Atlanta, when she finished in 13th position. But after taking bronze in both the European and World championships, the 25-year-old had been seen as a possible medal contender.
After the final, Friedli said she was withdrawing from international competition, confirming an announcement she had made before the race.
"Canoe is a demanding sport which has always made it hard for me to balance my budget," said Friedli, who teaches part-time.
Friedli's inability to win even a diploma ensured a blank day for Switzerland, since the kayak race was Monday's only final involving a Swiss competitor.
However the country had plenty of cause to celebrate at the weekend, when its athletes made the best ever Swiss start to an Olympic Games. The triathletes Brigitte McMahon and Magali Messmer won gold and bronze respectively in the Games' very first event. Then on Sunday fencer Gianna Hablützel-Bürki took silver in the women's individual épée.
In addition there were Olympic diplomas for Reto Hug, who finished eighth in the men's triathlon, and for Remo Lütolf who became the first Swiss swimmer in 12 years to reach an Olympic final. Lütolf also finished in eighth place.
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