Ben Hefner

USA Canoe/Kayak

Discipline: Sprint Canoe, C-1, C-2
Birthdate: 7/2/1992
Height: 6'5"
Hometown: Gainesville, Ga.
College: University of North Georgia - Physics Major
Club: Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club (LCKC)

2013 U23 World Championships Team Member

Recent Results:
  • 2013 Junior World Championships: 17th in U-23 C1 200m
  • 2013 Lake Placid International: 3rd in C1 200m, 1st in C2 1000m with Ian Ross
  • 2013 U.S. National Team Trials in Oklahoma City, Okla.: 1st in C2 1000m, 2nd in C1 200m, 3rd in C1 1000m
  • 2012 U.S. National Championships in Seattle, Wash.: 1st in C2 500m, C2 1000m, C4 1000m
  • 2012 Bochum U23 International Regatta in Germany: 1 Gold in C2 200m (with Ian Ross) and 2 Silver in C2 500m & 1000m
  • 2012 World Cup No. 2 in Duisburg, Germany: 18th in C2 1000m reached semifinals in 200m and 500m
  • 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Oklahoma City, Okla.: 2nd in C1 200m
  • 2011 World Championships in Szeged, Hungary: 8th in C4 1000m A Final, 7th in C1 200m B Final, 9th in C1 1000m semifinals, 8th in C2 500m heats
  • 2011 World Cup No. 3 in Duisburg, Germany: reached semifinal in C-1 200m (9th in semi) and 500m (8th in semi), knocked out in heats for C-1 1000m (9th in heat)
  • 2011 World Cup No. 2 in Racice, Czech Republic: reached semifinal in C-1 500m (9th in semi), knocked out in heats for C-1 200m (8th in heat)
  • 2011 US Sprint Team Trials: 1st in C1 1000m, 2nd in C1 200m
  • 2X 2011 National Champion: C-2 500m; C-4 1000m
Career Highlights:
  • 2010 U.S. National Championships - 7 gold medals
  • 4-time Member of US Junior National Sprint Team: 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010
  • competed in C2/C1 at the 2009 ICF Junior Canoe Sprint World Championship in Moscow
  • competed in Senior and Junior races at 2010 Pan American Championships in Mexico City

Honors:
• 2010 LCKC Male Paddler of the Year
• 3-time LCKC Junior Paddler of the Year: 2007-2009
• 2009 LCKC Sportsmanship Award
• Eagle Scout
• Georgia Merit Scholar

Personal:
Job: college student
Hobbies: intramural sports like dodgeball and ultimate frisbee, reading, camping
Quote: "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."
Who's your mentor and why? My mentor is my coach, Claudiu Cuir. As a medalist in canoe at the 2003 World Championships, he has a wealth of knowledge in the canoe field. He has helped me develop my skills and is helping me work toward my goals in the sport. Most of all, he believes in me and has helped me build confidence in myself.
Trivia: I am an Eagle Scout and while on a camping trip, I was bitten by a copperhead when I was 12 years old. I was named a Georgia Merit Scholar which means that, academically, I was in the top 5% of all seniors in Georgia who graduated in 2010.

At what age did you start paddling and how did you become involved in the sport?  I started out kayaking in 2005 at the age of 13, in the middle school program, at the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club.  In 2006 my coaches, Dave and Devri Robertson, encouraged me to try canoeing.  It was definitely the right decision.   

Where and when was your first competition, and how did you do?  My first competition was the Sprint Canoe/Kayak National championships in 2006 in Georgia. I won the Bantam 1000m and 500m.        

What has inspired you to train and compete at an International level?   My love of the sport and my commitment to excellence fuels my desire to compete internationally. In this sport, in order to be competitive at the World Championships and to make the Olympic team, I have to compete internationally.

What is your preference - individual or team boats, and why?  I enjoy both. I enjoy C1 because of the self-satisfaction and individual accomplishment you experience in a single boat. I enjoy C2 with my current partner, Ian Ross, because of the brotherhood and camaraderie that comes from working and winning in a team boat. Ian and I are both committed to winning and work well together.

What race distance do you prefer, and why? I prefer the 1000m because it is more tactical and my height has given me an advantage in this race.

What has been your biggest accomplishment(s) in the sport? At the Bochum U23 Regatta in the summer of 2012, Ian and I won gold in the 200m C2 and silver in both the 500m and 1000m C2 races.

What is the best advice you have been given and who offered it to you? I have been given a lot of great advice over the years.  However, I think the best advice has come from my coach Claudiu Cuir. I have always had a hard time learning to recover from a tough loss. After a particularly tough race day, he told me that I can’t always get upset every time I don’t come in first. I have to learn to move on and focus on the next race. 

Tell us about your current training schedule? Describe an average day for you? On a typical Monday, I get up for a 7 am paddle followed by a one hour weight circuit. I have another intense training session on the water at 10 am. After lunch and a short break, I have another training session on the water from 4 to 6 pm.  This is followed by a running workout. 

What do you do for fun and relaxation? I enjoy reading, watching movies, cooking, playing intramural sports, playing video games and hanging out with my girlfriend.

What would you like to do after your Canoe/Kayak career is over? I plan to continue my studies in physics/engineering. My ultimate dream is to one day become an astronaut. 

What is your favorite thing about the sport of Canoe/Kayak?  Do you have any special memory that you would like to share? My favorite thing about the sport is the international traveling and the variety of people that I have had the pleasure of meeting. I will always treasure the friends I have made and the experiences I have had abroad. One special memory was at the Junior World Championships in Moscow in 2009. We made friends with some Japanese paddlers and they took a picture of Ian and me with a couple of their athletes. Two years later, at the next Junior Worlds in Germany, the Japanese coach gave the picture to the USA coach to bring back to us. It really meant a lot to have them think enough of us to save that picture for two years and make sure we got it.

What is your goal for the 2013 season? My goal is to get good results at the U23 World championships in Canada. 

What is your dream goal? To one day go to the Olympics and represent the United States with the utmost honor, integrity, and excellence in the sport.

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