By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Atlanta police were searching on Wednesday for a 1992 Olympic gold medal stolen from champion canoer Joe Jacobi's car in a restaurant parking lot earlier this week.

Jacobi told police that the medal he won in the two-man canoe slalom event in Barcelona, Spain, was missing after he discovered the driver's side rear window of his car broken.

The break-in occurred on Monday while he was eating at a restaurant, according to an Atlanta Police Department report.

According to police, he was inside a restaurant when three men in a Volkswagen Passat drove up and broke car windows in the parking lot. Their faces were covered. Two witnesses gave police a license number for the Passat, which had been reported stolen.

Police recovered the Passat at an Atlanta apartment complex on Tuesday, Jacobi said. Inside they found a bag from his car, but not the gold medal.

Jacobi, who lives in Tennessee, uses the medal in public speaking events and had it with him in the car for a television interview, he said.

The 46-year-old remained optimistic that the medal would be recovered due to his wife's determination to find it and wide social media support.

“That really means more to me than the medal itself,” Jacobi said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “The medal does not define me.”

(Editing by Letitia Stein and Bernard Orr)