Switzerland have won their first medal at the Athens Olympics after Marcel Fischer grabbed gold in the men’s fencing competition.This content was published on August 17, 2004 - 20:31
But two-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer crashed out of the tennis in a surprise defeat to an unknown Czech player.
Fischer beat China’s Lei Wang in the final of the men’s individual epee competition on Tuesday to become Olympic champion.
“I can't believe it, it’s a dream come true,” said Fischer after the final.
“I felt tired after the semi-final, it was hot, but the public helped me to forget it,” he added.
Fischer fought off 56th-ranked Wang with a score of 15:9. The Chinese had already caused an upset by beating the more experienced Russian Pavel Kolobkov in the semi-final. Kolobkov later took the bronze.
It was Switzerland's first Olympic medal in men’s fencing since Oswald Zappelli won bronze in Helsinki in 1952.
The 26-year-old medical student, who comes from Biel, narrowly missed out on a medal in the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Currently the world number two, Fischer has also had to juggle his fourth-year medical exams - which he passed - with his Olympic preparations.
But elsewhere, Swiss medal hopes suffered a blow after Federer and judo hope, Sergei Aschwanden, both crashed out.
Top-seeded Federer was ousted by Tomas Berdych in three sets in the men's singles. The 74th-ranked Czech fought back to win 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in their second-round match.
Defeat came as a shock for Federer who had said that winning Olympic gold was one of his goals for 2004. He had been hoping to improve on his fourth place at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
“This is a terrible day for me,” he said.
Federer's recent form has been shaky, and he has now lost two of his last three matches.
The 23-year-old Swiss also looked below par in his first-round encounter with Russian Nikolay Davydenko, which the Swiss eventually won in three sets.
Last week the world number one suffered a first-round defeat in the Cincinnati Masters, which most commentators put down to exhaustion.
Up until that point, the Basel star had won 23 games on the trot and picked up four tournament titles: Halle, Wimbledon, Gstaad and Toronto.
“I have played non-stop, and it was clear that at some point I would have to pay. Unfortunately, it's happened at the Olympics,” he said.
Aschwanden was knocked out in the first round of the under-81kg category of the judo competition by Argentinean Ariel Sganga.
It was the second time that the double European champion and world silver medallist had been eliminated at such an early stage of the Olympics. At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, he was also knocked out in the first round.
“Perhaps I unconsciously put myself under too much pressure - I wanted a medal and everything finished in the first round,” said the 28-year-old.
For national coach Leo Held, it was clear that Aschwanden had been “fighting more against himself than against his opponent”.
“But it’s clear we will not give up and we will keep trying to be successful,” said Held.
swissinfo with agencies
Fischer was team European champion in Copenhagen in 2004.
He was fourth in the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Fischer was third in the junior world championships in Valence in 1998.
He also won the Stockholm Grand Prix this year, and was winner of three world cup tournaments between 2000 and 2003.
Marcel Fischer celebrated his 26th birthday on August 14.
He has also just passed his fourth-year medical exams at the University of Basel.
He narrowly missed out on a medal in 2000 in Sydney, but was unhappy with the referee's decision in the match.
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