Daniele Molmenti gave himself a gold medal as a birthday present.
The Italian powered down the white water course at the London Olympics to win the men's kayak slalom Wednesday on his 28th birthday.
Molmenti finished 1.35 seconds ahead of Vavrinec Hradilek, who gave the Czech Republic its first medal of these games. Germany's Hannes Aigner, who won bronze.
''I finished my job. I'm so excited I've lost my voice,'' Molmenti said.
Hradilek set the tone with a fast early run that few in the field seemed able to match. But Molmenti was ahead of Hradilek's pace much of the way and crossed in 93.43 seconds.
Hradilek was just eighth in the semifinals but put down a clean run through the rough currents of the Lee Valley White Water Centre. Still, Molmenti thought he had it.
''I was not very stressed at the start and I was sure that if I just did my job no one could beat me,'' Molmenti said.
Molmenti was right about that, adding an Olympic gold to his 2010 world championship and trio o...