Michal Martikán

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Michal Martikán
Michal Martikán.jpg
Martikán in 2005 in Čunovo
Personal information
Nationality Slovak
Born (1979-05-18) 18 May 1979 (age 35)
Liptovský Mikuláš, Czechoslovakia
Height 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
Weight 74 kilograms (163 lb)
Website http://www.michalmartikan.sk
Sport
Country Slovakia
Sport Canoe slalom
Event(s) C-1
Club Dukla Liptovský Mikuláš

Michal Martikán (Slovak pronunciation: [ˈmɪxal ˈmartɪkaːn]; born 18 May 1979) is a Slovak slalom canoeist who has been competing since the mid-1990s. In 1996 he became the first athlete to win an Olympic Games gold medal for Slovakia since the country gained independence in 1993. In total he won 5 Olympic medals (2 golds, 2 silvers and 1 bronze), which is the most among all slalom paddlers. He has also won the World Championship title in the C-1 individual category four times. He is considered by many the greatest C-1 slalom paddler alive.

Career[edit]

At the age of 16, Michal Martikán became the youngest winner of a World Cup slalom canoeing event.[1] Three months later, at age 17, Martikán was in sixth place after the first run of the canoe slalom singles event at the 1996 Olympics. With nothing to lose, he went all out on the second run and just bettered the score of defending champion Lukáš Pollert of the Czech Republic. Martikán was the first Olympic champion to represent independent Slovakia. He entered the 2000 Olympics as the favourite, having consistently finished near the top in every major competition and in each World Cup series. At the Sydney Games, Martikán registered the best score in the qualifying round, but was only in fifth place after the first run of the final. In the second run, he paddled a perfect course and his time was the fastest of the round. He was able to move up to the silver medal position behind Tony Estanguet of France. Competing in his third Olympics in 2004, Martikán again led the qualifying round. He also earned the highest score in the semifinals, which also served as the first run of the final. After the second run, it appeared that Martikán had regained the Olympic title, but the referees controversially decided to award him a two second penalty which pushed him to second place, only 12 hundredths of a second behind Estanguet. Martikán regained the Olympic title at the 2008 games in Beijing.[2] At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London Martikán took bronze. Michal Martikán is the only slalom canoeist to win five Olympic medals, one in each of the five games from 1996 through 2012.

At the World Championships, Martikán had an uninterrupted medal run in the individual C-1 event between 1995 and 2010. The 2011 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships saw him finish outside the medals for the first time in an Olympic or World Championship individual race in his career. Ironically, this failure came in front of a home crowd on the Čunovo course near Bratislava. However, he managed to win gold in the team event with his Slovak teammates to prolong his medal run. He won another two gold medals in the C-1 team event at the 2013 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in Prague and the 2014 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships at Deep Creek Lake, making it 13 straight World Championships with a medal.

He won his first medals in 1995 when he was just 16. He took a bronze in the C-1 event and another bronze in the C-1 team event. In 1997 he won his first individual world title as well as team gold. He won the individual C-1 event on three more occasions (2002, 2003 and 2007). As of 2014 he has a total of 18 World Championship medals (11 golds, 3 silvers and 4 bronzes) which is more than any other slalom paddler in any category.

He has also won the overall World Cup title five times (1998, 2000, 2001, 2006, 2014), which is a record among C-1 paddlers.

At the European Championships he has won four straight individual golds between 2007 and 2010. Slovakia won the C-1 team event 8 times with him in the team. He also has 4 silvers (3 individual and 1 in team event) and 1 bronze (in the team event).

Manslaughter conviction[edit]

In November 1997 Martikán was involved in a car accident near the village of Velké Zálužie, Slovakia.[3] The car he was driving hit a pedestrian causing him fatal injuries. The investigation concluded that Martikán was traveling substantially over the 40 km/h speed limit. It was also found that the killed man was intoxicated at the time of the accident.

With Martikán facing actual incarceration due to the violation of his probation terms, then-president Rudolf Schuster, amid grave criticism, granted Martikán a presidential pardon,[4] which besides sparing him from jail time effectively meant removal of the conviction from his criminal record. Schuster argued that Martikán's positive athletic representation of the country abroad warranted the pardon, while critics pointed to the double standard and the preferential treatment Martikán was receiving as a sport celebrity.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Seeing is believing for Slovakia's Martikan"Reuters. August 12, 2008. Retrieved 2011-10-04.
  2. ^ "GB's Florence claims canoe silver". BBC Sport. 2008-08-12. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  3. ^ "Olympic winner kills a pedestrian". The Slovak Spectator. December 4, 1997. Retrieved 2008-08-17. 
  4. ^ "Amnesties a relic of feudal powers". The Slovak Spectator. January 29, 2001. Retrieved 2008-08-17. 

External links[edit]

Olympic Games
Preceded by
Slavomír Kňazovický
Flagbearer for  Slovakia
Athens 2004
Succeeded by
Elena Kaliská