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Sports

Gold for Germany's Men's Hockey Team and Mountain Bike Heroine

While Germany's canoe and kayak Olympians failed to win a single race, there was a comprehensive victory for Sabine Spitz who won the women's mountain bike event while a single goal earned Germany's hockey men the gold.

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Goal hero Christopher Zeller (l.) and Sebastian Biederlack celebrate at the final whitle

Germany's men won the hockey Olympic gold to go with their world title with a narrow but well-earned 1-0 victory over Spain in Beijing on Saturday, Aug. 22.

The single goal, shot by Christopher Zeller in the 19th minute, was enough to end the spirited challenge of the Spanish. Germany could have had at least two more goals had it not been for Spain's goalie Francisco Cortes who denied Matthias Witthaus, and another German shot which hit the left goalpost.

In the women's mountain biking final earlier in the day, Sabine Spitz, who ended her race more than 40 seconds ahead of silver medalist Maja Wloszczowska of Poland, was in a class of her own as she cycled away from her rivals early in the 27-kilometre course and had enough time to carry her bike across the finish line in delight.

Sabine Spitz, of Germany, celebrates after winning the Women's Mountain Bike Race

With time to spare, Spitz could celebrate before the line

"I thought the Polish rider (Wloszczowska) would have been stronger," Spitz said. "After the first downhill I saw a chance to pass her and take the lead. My aim was to shock my opponents in the race, but (for it) to happen that way was a big surprise."

The 36-year old made her victory look easy, but said she had to focus throughout in order not to fall or lose her line.

"It was difficult to concentrate and control my opponents even when leading, so it took a lot of concentration," Spitz said. "The heat was the strongest opponent. I like the heat so maybe it was because of that that I won. It was very hard because the weather was so hot today."

The German provided a nervous moment on a downhill section on the last lap, but came through unscathed.

"It was a really nervous last lap because there's always the fear that you crash or suffer a puncture or another mechanical problem," said Spitz, whose last major international triumph was her world title win in 2003.

Sabine Spitz of Germany bites the gold medal at the awarding ceremony of the women's cross country of the Beijing Olymic Games cycling-mountain bike event

Spitz says she's hungry for more

Spitz, who only started racing at the relatively late age of 22, said that her age was of no concern. She is getting hungrier all the time.

"It's just a question of mind, I am still hungry," she said. "I feel pure joy at what I have finally achieved after so many years of hard work. Winning the gold medal at the Olympic Games is the crowning glory."

No golds for Germany on the water

After many days of often surprising success, Team Germany's paddlers suffered a disappointing penultimate day in Beijing when a number of golden opportunities disappeared in the choppy waters of the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park.

Christian Gille and Tomasz Wylenzek took the bronze in a photo finish in the K2 500m division, just edging out the Belarussian duo by 0.032 seconds. China's Meng Guanliang and Yang Wenjun were very popular winners of the race, just ahead of Russians Sergey Ulegin and Alexander Kostoglod.

Germany's Christian Gille, front, and Thomasz Wylenzek,

Gille and Wylenzek had to settle for bronze on Saturday after Friday's silver

In the women's K2 over 500m, Fanny Fischer and Nicole Reinhardt left their surge forward until too late as Hungarians Katalin Kovacs and Natasa Janic won gold in a time of one minute 41,308 seconds.

Ronald Rauhe and Tim Weiskotter won the silver in the K2 500m race, running eventual gold medalists Saul Craviotto and Carlos Perez of Spain close at the finish.

In Friday's Women's K1 1,000m race Katrin Wagner-Augustin claimed bronze behind Inna Osypenko-Radomska of Ukraine in first and Josefa Idem of Italy in second place.

Germany's overall record at the Shunyi Park of two gold, two silver and three bronze medals was the poorest result the country had achieved in the sport since competing as a unified nation at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

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