U.S. trials, once wrestled a bear. His name was Victor, and, until he
ran up against Herbert, he was undefeated. Poor Victor. Herbert
pinned him twice.
Herbert and most of his American teammates -- Greg Barton may be
an exception -- will wish they were wrestling bears instead of the
Eastern Europeans in Seoul. At the last fully attended Olympics, in
1976, Eastern Europeans swept the canoeing and kayaking gold medals,
and at a July meet in Duisburg, West Germany, the East Germans won 10
of the 12 Olympic events. The favorite in Herbert's event will be
East Germany's Kay Bluhm, followed closely by world champion Paul
MacDonald of New Zealand. The top man in Canadian-style canoeing --
which features a single-bladed paddle -- is Bluhm's countryman, Olaf
Heukrodt, who since 1981 has won five world titles in the 500 singles
(C1) and last year added the C1 1,000 world championship. If he races
in the latter event, his primary rival will be '86 world champion
Aurel Macarencu of Romania, who missed last year's world
championships officially because of an eye problem, though several
Eastern European coaches said the real reason was that he had been
caught trying to leave his country with too much currency.
Women compete in only three events (the K1, K2 and K4 500s), and
Birgit Fischer Schmidt of East Germany owns all of them. Except for
1986, when she took time off to have a baby, Schmidt has swept the
three events at every world championship since 1981.