Crossing the finish line in victory, 42-year-old German Birgit Fischer smiled, pumped her fist and raised her paddle in the air. Her much younger teammates just leaned back and gasped with exhaustion.
Fischer won her eighth gold medal and became the first woman to win Olympic medals 24 years apart, leading her four-person kayak team to a comeback win in the 500-meter final over defending world champion Hungary.
"You never know if it's going to be the last medal you win, so in that sense, it has a higher meaning," Fischer said.
Asked if she thought the medal was indeed her last, she became coy.
"I have no idea," she said. "Who knows?"
Fischer won her first gold at 18 in Moscow, becoming the youngest woman ever to win an Olympic kayaking event. She now has 11 total medals and will be a strong contender for yet another today, when she races in the pairs kayak final.
The Germans qualified for all 12 finals, winning two golds and two silvers out of the first six. The remaining finals are today.
One German finished lower than expected, however. Spain's David Cal surged ahead of Andreas Dittmer, the most dominant man in his sport, to take gold in the 1,000-meter single canoe event.