Olympic Countdown: Canoeing: Foxes hunt in packs

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RICHARD FOX, four times a world champion, and his wife, Myriam Jerusalmi, will rival the runners, Yobes and Lisa Ondieki, to become the first couple to win Olympic gold medals for different countries in Barcelona.

The Foxes are competing in the first slalom canoeing tournament to be staged at the Olympic Games since 1972, Richard for Great Britain and Myriam for France, while the Ondiekis represent Kenya and Australia.

Emil Zatopek, a triple gold medallist for Czechoslovakia in the long-distance events, and his javelin-throwing wife, Dana, were the first couple to win Olympic titles in 1952. The Soviet Union's Viktor Bryzgin, in the 4 x 100m relay, and his wife Olga, in the 400m and 4 x 400m relay, are the only other winning couple, in Seoul in 1988. However, no husband and wife have won medals for different countries.

Another twist in the Fox story is that Richard's sister, Rachel, is also in the British canoeing team and will compete directly against his wife. 'I don't know if a husband, wife and sister have ever competed at the same Olympics, never mind won medals,' he said, shrugging off the question of split loyalties. 'You just focus on your own race and do the best you can.'

Myriam, world champion in 1989 and a former World Cup holder, admits her debt to Britain, saying: 'Richard helped me reach my full potential. I always had a dilettante attitude towards training before I met him.'

Fox, 32, could have won three kayak singles golds had his event not been off the Olympic agenda for 20 years. 'I've never really felt bitter about it,' he said. 'The Olympics has never been part of our sporting world, but now that it is we just look forward to the excitement and opportunity.

'Even though I have trained hard over the years, I didn't have the same hunger or fear of the great unknown after winning four world titles, but the Olympics has brought all that back. I look at it as being my most exciting challenge yet.'

Apart from the Foxes, Britain's other slalom medal hopes will be Gareth Marriott, the winner of last year's Canadian singles World Cup, and Lynn Simpson, who beat many of her rivals in a pre-Olympic event in Italy.

GREAT BRITAIN: Racing: Men: J Block, G Bourne, R Burgess, G Burns, E Jamieson, I Lawler, S Parsons, A Train, S Train. Women: A Dallaway; H Dresser, A Thorogood, S Troop. Slalom: Men: A Arrowsmith, P Brian, A Clough, I Clough, M Delaney, R Fox, M Jones, G Marriott, I Raspin. Women: R Fox, K Like, L Simpson.