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Tretiakov holds off Latvian challenge to clinch men’s skeleton gold

15/02/2014

Reigning world champion Alexander Tretiakov of Russia added the men’s skeleton Olympic title to his growing list of honours, as he saw off the challenge of five-time World Cup winner Martin Dukurs to win gold at the Sanki Sliding Centre.

The man known as “the Russian Rocket” produced two more consistent rides on the final day of the competition to clock a combined time of 3 minutes 44.29 seconds. That placed him 0.81 seconds ahead of Latvian Dukurs, himself a two-time world champion.

The 28-year-old Russian, who led the event by 0.56 seconds after the two opening runs on the previous day, failed to match Dukurs’ speed in the third run, meaning that the gap between the two was reduced to just 0.02 seconds to set up a dramatic finale.

However, Tretiakov, who had won bronze at Vancouver 2010, rediscovered his mojo in the final run to extend his advantage over his Latvian rival once again.

Huge happiness

“I felt huge happiness after crossing the finishing line in the fourth run,” said an ecstatic Tretiakov.

“It means my cycle of training wasn't in vain. My victory is the result of a lot of training and hard work. All the emotion suddenly came out at the end and I felt lightness and joy,” he added.

“This is a very important medal, it's a real medal and I'm happy to win it for my country.”

Dukurs, meanwhile, was pleased with his performance and magnanimous in defeat.

“I did all four runs at my maximum. Technically I was good and the sled was the best,” said the Latvian.

“In general, I am very satisfied with all four runs,” he added. “But competitors do exist, and you cannot know what their level will be. Alexander was just better today.”

Meanwhile, the battle for bronze was fought out by two US team-mates, Matthew Antoine and John Daly.

Antoine, who lay fourth after the opening day, came from behind to leapfrog his compatriot and join Tretiakov and Dukurs on the podium with a time of 3 minute 447.26 seconds.

“We made an equipment change today and took a different approach,” said Antoine, who was clearly thrilled to have made the podium.

“I had a pretty good feeling in the last run but you never really know until you see the clock. Once I saw it, it was pure celebration. This is definitely the best moment of my life.”

Sochi 2014 photos

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