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German team claim equestrian gold

• Olympics 2004: Special report 

ATHENS, Greece -- Germany won gold, lost it and then had it reinstated as they were finally declared winners in the team equestrian three-day event at the Athens Games.

The German team finished ahead after three rounds of competition, only for officials to impose a 12-point penalty after reviewing video evidence at the request of the second-placed French team.

The decision moved France temporarily into first place -- only for Germany to be reinstated on appeal.

The French team argued that German rider Bettina Hoy had crossed the start line twice at the start of the final show jumping event.

But the German team said in a statement: "The appeal committee concluded that the countdown had been re-started resulting in a clear injustice to the rider concerned. The committee therefore removed the time penalties."

"After the bell rang at the start of the warm-up phase Bettina crossed the start line before she rode across again at full speed," Jens Adolphsen, a German official, told Germany's SID sport news agency.

"That's completely normal in show jumping."

Germany finished on 133.80 penalty points, with France on 140.40 and Britain taking bronze on 143.00.

The United States -- briefly in the medals before the German reinstatement -- finished fourth.

Hoy was also awarded gold in the individual three-day event. Leslie Law of Britain was second, with American Kimberly Severson finishing third.

In other Olympic highlights on Wednesday:

  • Zhang Guozheng earned China's third gold medal in Olympic weightlifting, taking the 69 kg title with a total of 347.5kg. Zhang combined 160kg in the snatch with 187.5 kg in the clean and jerk. South Korea's Lee Bae-Young took silver with Croatian Nikolai Pechalov in third place. Ukraine's Nataliya Skakun won the women's 63kg title.
  • Park Sung-Hyun continued South Korea's dominance of women's archery by beating compatriot Lee Sung-Jin 110-108 to win the women's individual event. South Korea have won every women's event since the discipline was reintroduced to the Games in 1984. Britain's Alison Williamson beat Taiwan's Yuan Shi Chi 105-104 to take the bronze.
  • Tony Estanguet of France retained his title in the C1 canoe slalom after judges decided that Slovakia's Michal Martikan had hit a gate and gave him a two-second penalty, pushing him into silver medal position. But Slovakia did get their first gold medal when Elena Kaliska won the women's K1 event.
  • Georgia's Zurab Zviadauri won his country's first judo gold medal in 12 years with victory over opponent Hiroshi Izumimen's in the 90kg division. Masae Ueno of Japan won the women's 70kg gold
  • Italy took gold and silver in the women's individual foil fencing, with Valentina Vezzali claiming the title. Giovanna Trillini was second with Sylwia Gruchala of Poland taking bronze.
  • The last women's double trap shooting competition ended as it started with Kim Rhode of the U.S. taking gold. The event was introduced in 1996, when Rhode also claimed victory, but is being removed from the Games as part of an effort to cutback the number of competitions. Maria Grozdeva of Bulgaria won the other shooting gold of the day in the women's 25-meter pistol.

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