Otto leads another German clean sweep in luge

In a world of international competition, it is quite hard to find any sport where a single nation emerges as the dominant force. Most sports do have a group of countries who tend to do well, but it's rare that a single nation dominates. There are, though, a few exceptions.

Women's luge had become the preserve of German sliders. Germany’s domination of the women’s luge had started with gold and silver in Nagano 1998 and went on to a clean sweep of the medals in 2002. Since then, German women had won every medal at the four world championships, cementing their reputation for invulnerability. The anticipation was high that, in Turin, the Germans could repeat their sweep.

The country had three strong contenders, after all. Silke Kraushaar had won the Olympic title in Nagano in 1998, she had taken bronze in Salt Lake City four years later and she had also won the world championship in 2004

Then there was the 22-year-old soldier Tatjana Hüfner, the sport's coming star. But most noticeable of all was the defending Olympic champion, Sylke Otto.

Now 36 years old, Otto had had an interesting Olympic career. She made her debut in 1992 at the age of 22, and finished 13th. But such was the strength of the German women's luge team that she then missed out on selection until 2002, when she won the gold medal in Salt Lake.

In Italy, she knew that all she had to do was beat her teammates to be almost certain of winning gold. But that, of course, would be immensely hard.

The first run saw Otto go fastest with Hüfner less than 0.1 seconds behind and Kraushaar a further 0.16secs behind in fourth place. On the second run, it was Hüfner's turn to be disappointed as she went only sixth quickest. Kraushaar was second but, once more, Otto topped the time-sheets to eke out a lead of more than 0.2 seconds over the field.

She completed the hat-trick on the third run, fastest again and now 0.35 seconds ahead of the rest. All Otto had to do was get down safely on her fourth and final slide and victory would be assured.

It was. The three Germans once again closed out the top three spots on the final run, with Otto safely positioned as third quickest. She took gold, with Kraushaar earning silver and the bronze going to Hüfner. The repeat German clean sweep had duly been achieved.