Swiss skier Corinne Rey-Bellet has finished fifth in the Olympic women's downhill, continuing a run of near misses at the world's biggest tournaments.This content was published on February 12, 2002 - 22:04
Having twice finished in fourth place at the 2001 world championships in St Anton, the 29-year-old from canton Valais was just 15 hundredths of a second off winning the Olympic bronze on Tuesday.
There was at least no agonising wait for Rey-Bellet to endure, with the Swiss skier coming down the Wildflower piste after the four fastest women had all completed their runs.
"It wasn't a bad result when you consider the (back) injury I picked up just before the Games," Rey-Bellet said afterwards. "I was fully motivated and going all out for a medal because I knew that previous performances don't count for anything at the Olympics.
"To come fifth is heart-breaking because it's so close," Rey-Bellet added.
Montillet stuns favourites
In a major surprise, France's Carole Montillet took the downhill gold after finishing almost half a second ahead of Italian favourite Isolde Kostner. Austria's Renate Götschl, currently second in the World Cup downhill rankings behind Kostner, had to settle for the bronze.
Germany's Hilde Gerg, a winner of two World Cup downhills in January, was unable to continue her great run of form, finishing Tuesday's race in fourth place just five hundredths of a second ahead of Rey-Bellet.
Montillet's win was a highly emotional affair with the new Olympic champion paying tribute to her late team mate Regine Cavagnoud who was killed in a training accident earlier this season.
"I was thinking about her (Regine) a lot," said Montillet. "I am sure that from where she is she will feel proud of me."
The first Frenchwoman ever to win the Olympic downhill, Montillet admitted that the team had found it "very difficult" to race this season after Cavagnoud's death.
"As a team we wanted to dedicate these Olympics to Regine," the new champion added.
Diploma for Berthod
Rey-Bellet's Swiss team-mate Sylviane Berthod was unable to live up to her billing as a possible medal contender although the 24-year-old acquitted herself well by coming in seventh.
Switzerland's third competitor in the downhill, Catherine Borghi, finished in 19th position.
by Mark Ledsom with agencies
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