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Page last updated at 18:01 GMT, Tuesday, 12 August 2008 19:01 UK

Togo claims first Olympic medal

Bejamin Boukpeti of Togo holds his national flag
The biggest cheer went to Boukpeti for his performance

Togo won its first ever Olympic medal when Benjamin Boukpeti took bronze in the men's single kayak slalom at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Boukpeti's snapped his paddle in half during wild celebrations.

"I can hardly believe it but I'm not surprised," said Boukpeti, who became the first non-European male kayaker to win an Olympic slalom medal.

Unexpected leader after the first run, he held on to finish 5.21 seconds ahead of Ireland's Eoin Rheinisch in fourth.

Germany's Alexander Grimm claimed gold and produced an error-free final run, taking the difficult upstream gates smoothly, to move from fourth to first.

It is more than a beautiful surprise because many Togolese are not aware of this sports discipline
Togo's Communications Minister Cornelius Aidam

But despite Grimm's impressive efforts, the biggest cheer from the packed crowd was reserved for world number 56, Boukpeti.

Afterwards he hugged and kissed his French mother and Togolese father, AP news agency reports.

"They showed me it was possible," Boukpeti said

Togo's minister for communication, culture and civic education said Boukpeti had made the nation proud.

"This is unexpected; it is a good surprise for Togo," Cornelius Aidam said.

"It is more than a beautiful surprise because many Togolese are not aware of this sports discipline."

France's Fabien Lefevre, who was favourite to win, took silver, but he struggled in the upper part of the course.

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