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First Olympic medal for Togo

Published on Monday 11th August 2008

Beijing: Togo won its first ever Olympic medal when Benjamin Boukpeti took bronze in the men's single kayak slalom at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Boukpeti's snapped his paddle in half during wild celebrations.

"I can hardly believe it but I'm not surprised," said Boukpeti, who became the first non-European male kayaker to win an Olympic slalom medal.

Unexpected leader after the first run, he held on to finish 5.21 seconds ahead of Ireland's Eoin Rheinisch in fourth.

Germany's Alexander Grimm claimed gold and produced an error-free final run, taking the difficult upstream gates smoothly, to move from fourth to first.

But despite Grimm's impressive efforts, the biggest cheer from the packed crowd was reserved for world number 56, Boukpeti.

Afterwards he hugged and kissed his French mother and Togolese father, AP news agency reports.

"They showed me it was possible," Boukpeti said

France's Fabien Lefevre, who was favourite to win, took silver, but he struggled in the upper part of the course.

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