Rebecca Giddens - Paddling started as a family activity for Giddens. They went to a YMCA canoe camp in Wisconsin to learn the sport. The instructor, Ray McLain, was an avid slalom racer and passed his passion for the sport off to the family.
Rebecca and her siblings started by racing on a local river called the Red. After mastering the waterways of the upper Midwest , McLain took the siblings to national and, eventually, international events. Rebecca’s brother, Todd, left the sport to pursue his career while her sister, Lindsey, went on to finish medical school. Rebecca has stuck with kayak and is now one of the top athletes in the sport.
Giddens is married U.S. Men’s Kayak Team member Eric Giddens. She was an honors student at Georgia State University .
Joe Jacobi - Jacobi is one of the top canoers in U.S. history. Entering the 1992 Olympic Games ranked fifth in the world, Jacobi and then partner Scott Straugbaugh upset boats from Czechoslovakia and France to win America ’s first gold medal in slalom canoe.
Jacobi participated in the 1996 Olympic Trials in C-1 canoe but failed to qualify, and was the alternate in C-1 for the Sydney Games. He is a busy man when not on the river. In 1989, he traveled to the USSR with paddlers from France , the United Kingdom and U.S. as part of the U.S.-Soviet Whitewater Exchange Program.
Jacobi is a motivational speaker for a program called “Making It Count” sponsored by Monster.com in which he talks with groups from schools and corporations. He also helps run the Gold Medal Kayak Camp in the summer. Jacobi lives in Ducktown , Tenn. , on the banks of the Ocoee River , site of the canoe/kayak competition at the 1996 Olympics.
He resides there with his wife, Lisa, and their daughter, Seu Jane, whom they named after the town that hosted the canoe/kayak events during the Barcelona Games.
Rami Zur - Zur was born in Berkeley , Calif. , but moved to Zikron Ya’akov , Israel , at three weeks old. Competed for Israel in 2000, reaching the 500m and 1000m K-2 semifinals. When the Israeli Olympic Committee cut back his training grant, Zur opted to move to California and use his dual citizenship to compete for the U.S.
He qualified for the U.S. Olympic team for the first time in September 2003, placing fourth (500m K-1) at the World Championships, being the top American male finisher. Zur served three years in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) – which is required of all Israeli men – as a pharmaceutical technician.
He was also involved in the IDF athlete program which allows athletes to serve in the army and train for their respective sport. A resident athlete at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center, Zur is currently pursuing a B.A. in management at Southwestern College . He speaks to his parents in Israel almost daily. Before a race, Zur eats pasta and meat, and in his spare time enjoys surfing, off-roading, hiking and relaxing.
Information provided by USOC Press Box