As far as Olympic Sports go, Canoe/Kayak is relatively new. While it was competed in during the 1972 Munich Olympics, Canoe/Kayak would wait 20 years until 1992 when it became a regular part of the Summer Olympics. Since that time there have been some great pioneers in the sport of Olympic Canoe/Kayak, but the more recent 20 years has seen some dominant athletes take over the sport in the Olympics. C-1 Canoe/Kayak competitors Michal Martikan from Slovakia and Tony Estanguet of France are two paddlers that have dominated the sport of Olympic Canoe for the last 4 Olympics and they once again battled it out in the C-1 event in the 2012 London Games.
Michal Martikan Wins C-1 in the 1996 Atlanta GamesMikal Martikan has been on the medal podium for almost as long as Slalom Canoe has been a part of the Olympics. Martikan won the Gold in the C-1 event during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Little did he know at that time that the last name of Bronze Medal winner Patrice Estanguet would be a name he would be sharing a podium with for the next 2 Olympics.
2000 Sydney Olympics: Tony Estanguet Wins Gold & Michal Martikan wins SilverIn the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games Michal Martikan, the returning Olympic champ, would place second to newcomer Tony Estanguet. Tony, being the younger brother of Patrice Estanguet, hails from a well established canoe paddling family.
2004 Athens Olympics: Estanguet wins Gold & Martikan wins SilverThe 2004 Athens Olympics would reveal an identical result with Estanguet on top and Michal taking the silver, only this one was a little harder to swallow. Martikan actually had the fastest time only to lose his first place finish on a judges decision that he had touched a gate during his run, earning him a 2 second penalty. Michal Martikan's disappointment is evident from the look on his face on the medal podium.
2008 Beijing Olympics: Michal Martikan Wins C-1The 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics would yield two surprises in this rivalry. First, there were legitimate questions about whether Michal Martikan could in his fourth Olympics win a Gold medal in the C-1 after two straight Silver Medal finishes. Secondly, there was much anticipation for two-time Olympic champ Tony Estanguet to three-peat in 2008. Well, In 2008, 12 years since he had last won Gold, Michal Martikan once again regained his Olympic title, taking the gold in the C-1 event. Equally surprising, Estanguet was no where to be found, as he did not medal for the first time in 12 years.
2012 London Olympics: Tony Estanguet Takes Gold & Michal Martikan Wins Bronze
The 2012 London Olympics are the fifth Summer Games for Michal Martikan, having earned 2 golds and 2 silvers in the last four Olympics. He came into the games looking to defend his Olympic Title and further grow his legend. This is Tony Estanguet's fourth time competing in the C-1 event in the Olympics. He has two first place finishes, but he failed to medal during the last Olympics. 2012 was his year for redemption, as he was looking to once again unseat Martikan.
Amazingly, Tony Estanguet once again wins the gold medal, giving him 3 golds in the C-1 event in the last 4 Olympics. Michal Martikan wins his first bronze medal in his Olympic career, thereby extending his Olympic medal count to 5. Its anyone's guess who will win in 2016 in Rio!