BARCELONA, Spain -- They weren't the favorites. They were just two men from the United States, paddling a canoe through a torrent of water, trying to claim a medal, any medal, at the 1992 Summer Olympics.
But yesterday, on the man-made course in La Seu d'Urgell, Joe Jacobi, a
Maryland native who trains in North Carolina, and Scott Strausbaugh got more
than they had bargained for. They won the gold medal in the men's double canoe
to close out the whitewater slalom competition.
Jacobi and Strausbaugh won with a two-race combined time of 122.41
seconds. Miroslav Simek and Jiri Rohan of Czechoslovakia were second in
124.25. Franck Adisson and Wilfrid Forgues of France were third in 124.38.
Finishing fourth and missing the bronze by less than four seconds were
Lecky Haller, a Gilman School graduate from Glencoe, Md., and Jamie McEwan, a
1972 bronze medalist who lives in Lakeville, Conn.
In men's single kayak, Italy's Pierpaolo Ferrazzi won the gold, France's
Sylvain Curinier took the silver and Germany's Jochen Lettmann took the
The Americans were unable to win a medal in the event as Eric Jackson of
Barnesville, Md., was 13th, Rich Weiss, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., was 16th
and Scott Shipley of Poulsbo, Wash., was 27th.
Jacobi, who attended Winston Churchill High in Potomac, Md., with Olympic
gold-medal swimmer Mike Barrowman, said his former classmate pushed him toward
"His swim in the 200 breaststroke was really inspiring," Jacobi said.
"That was really, really great, and then he sent me this letter through the
electric mail system. It talked about really staying focused and having fun.
And that's what we have been doing."
After watching their teammate, Jon Lugbill, of Bethesda, Md., plummet from
first to fourth in the men's single canoe competition Saturday, Jacobi and
Strausbaugh pushed through the gates on their two trips down the course.
"We had two clean runs with no touches, no penalties," said Strausbaugh,
of Almond, N.C. "I think that's phenomenal for anyone out here, especially for
Jacobi and Strausbaugh are unsure whether they will continue to race
together four more years. Dana Chladek, the bronze medalist in women's kayak,
also was unclear about her plans in the sport. But if they all continue to
train, they may find themselves competing at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.
Yesterday, International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio
Samaranch said his organization "will do everything we can to ensure that
whitewater canoeing be present at Atlanta. We have an 80 percent chance of
"I hope Mr. Samaranch caught some of the enthusiasm," Lugbill said. "It's
exciting for us that he was here. I think we have a real good shot to get in