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Fischer on course for medal record

Birgit Fischer
Fischer won her first gold medal in Moscow in 1980.
• Olympics 2004: Special report 
• Profile: Birgit Fischer

ATHENS, Greece -- Germany's Birgit Fischer has won the eighth canoeing gold medal of her Olympic career, and she could claim a record-equaling ninth on Saturday.

Fischer and her teammates -- Maike Nollen, Katrin Wagner and Caroline Leonhardt -- snatched victory from the Hungarian quartet in the final meters of a thrilling K4 500 meters race.

The 42-year-old, who won her first gold medal as an 18-year-old in Moscow in 1980, will compete in the K2 500m final on Saturday with a share of the title of most successful female Olympian of all-time in her sights.

Russian gymnnast Larissa Latynina won nine gold medals during three Games from 1956 to 1964.

Fischer has won gold at every Games she has competed in, and could perhaps have won more had she not missed the 1984 Games in Los Angeles because of a boycott by the East German team.

Fischer's partner in Saturday's race, 22-year-old Leonhardt, wasn't even born when her teammate won her first medal. Fischer vowed to retire after the Sydney Games in 2000, but started training again last October. She hasn't ruled out competing in Beijing in 2008.

"You never know if it is going to be the last medal so it has a higher value," said Fischer.

"We had already planned to start very offensively and in the last 150 meters I realized that the Hungarians were in front of us but we got our act together just as we did in Sydney and gave 110 percent and finally won the race."

Ukraine claimed the bronze medal in the K4 500m.

Fischer's achievement was the highlight for the German team on a day that brought them two golds and two silvers in six races.

Christian Gille and Tomasz Wylenzek claimed gold for Germany in the men's C2 1,000m, edging out Russia and Hungary.

But Germany suffered disappointment in the men's C1 1,000m as Spain's David Cal beat defending champion and race favorite Andreas Dittmer by half a second. Hungary's Attila Vajda finished third.

"Straight afterwards I was a bit disappointed as I was the favorite," Dittmer said. "But I gave it my all and have seldom felt so exhausted. I just didn't manage to stay with him."

In the K4 1,000m defending champions Hungary led from start to finish, earning Zoltan Kammerer and Botond Storcz their third career gold medals. Teammates Akos Vereckei and Gabor Horvath both have two. Germany took silver with Slovakia in third place.

Sweden's Markus Oscarsson and Henrik Nilsson took the gold ahead of Italy and Norway in the men's K2 1,000m.

In the first race of the day Norway's Eirik Veraas Larsen battled back to win gold in the K1 1,000m gold. Canada's Adam van Koeverden set the early pace but Larsen claimed the lead in the second half of the race. World champion Ben Fouhy of New Zealand also edged out van Koeverden on the line to grab silver.

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