USA Canoe/Kayak Finds Paralympic Success

July 04, 2008, 11 p.m. (ET)

Racing in the first ever ICF sanctioned PaddleAbility events at the European Canoe Sprint Championships, Team USA performed beyond expectations. Congratulations to Team USA for their participation in Milan. Job well done!

For results click here

 The following athletes represented Team USA on May 15-18, 2008 in Milan, Italy.

Tammy Jopson, Rochester, NY (“LTA” paddler with below knee amputation)

  • Teacher aide in Rochester area school district • Outrigger canoe paddler since 2001; competitor in races in Maryland, California, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, USCA Championships and annual Rochester River Challenge Outrigger Canoe Sprint Races
  • Member of team of mainland U.S. paddlers who competed in exhibition outrigger canoe sprint races in 2004 IVF World Sprints and 2006 IVF World Sprints
  • 2nd place winner of women’s V1 500-meter division in 2006 IVF World sprints exhibition race in Hawaii
  • Member of winning mixed team in V6 500-meter division in 2006 IVF World Sprints in New Zealand Competitor in the solo women’s marathon canoe races in Empire State Games for three years; paddled a Jenson-190 to successfully compete against able-bodied women

Xavier Major, Rochester, NY (“A” paddler with spinal cord injury at the T10 level) 

  • Engineering technician for FRA Engineering in Rochester, New York
  • Outrigger canoe paddler since 1998; competitor in races in Maryland, California, Massachusetts, USCA National Championships and annual Rochester River Challenge Outrigger Canoe Sprint Races
  •  Wheelchair basketball player: National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) * Rochester Wheels – 12th year (Center / Forward) (1993 – 2005) & (2006 – Present) * Played: NWBA Buffalo Chariots - 2 years (2005 – 2006)
  • Basketball coach for able-bodied youth teams in AAU, CYO, summer leagues & church leagues; coached a team that participated in an international basketball tournament in France in March of this year.
  • ESL Jefferson Award Winner for Outstanding Community Service

Jan Whitaker, Rochester, NY (Volunteer Coach)

  • Retired teacher of health and physical education United States Canoe Association, Adaptive Paddling Chairman since 2001, prior International Chairman and Youth Chairman; established exhibition outrigger canoe sprint races and national championship sprint races for paddlers with physical disabilities; established exhibition outrigger canoe sprint races for paddlers with intellectual disabilities
  • International Va’a Association, member of Adaptive Paddling Committee and 2008 paddler classification panel
  • Cape Ability Outrigger Ohana, President; CAOO is an all volunteer chapter of Disabled Sports USA, organized by Jan in 2005 with a focus on paddle sports
  • Empire State Games (New York State), State Chairman for masters marathon canoe and kayak races for the past five years • USCA national marathon canoe and sprint canoe champion in C-2 women’s, C-2 mixed and C-1 classes
  • USCA certified canoe instructor; helped developed the instructor certification course • East Coast Outrigger Racing Association, coach of 2008 IVF World Sprints Adaptive Paddling Team, a 6-man and 6-woman team
  • Coach of outrigger canoe team, composed of paddlers from mainland United States, that competed in exhibition sprint races in 2004 IVF World Sprints in Hilo, Hawaii and 2006 IVF World Sprints in Lake Karapiro, New Zealand
  • Author of numerous articles on adaptive paddling published in Kanu Culture, Challenge Magazine, USCA’s Canoe News, currently writing an adaptive outrigger canoe instructional manual
  • Race director of the Rochester River Challenge Outrigger Canoe Sprint Races (since 1997), an inclusive community event for paddlers with and without physical and/or intellectual disabilities; the RRC has been a Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports project event since 2005
  • Jan has promoted outrigger canoeing as a potential Paralympic Sport since 1997 and believes outrigger canoe is the best and most dignified choice of canoe to showcase the abilities of paddlers with disabilities. Outrigger canoes can accommodate paddlers with a wide range of disabilities and include those from every major disability group involved in Paralympic Sport.
Recently, CanoeKayak Canada, Canada’s National Governing Body for paddlesports, hosted an International Conference in Montreal in an effort to get more countries involved in the PaddleALL initiative and working towards inclusion in the 2012 Paralympic Games program. The participation of these athletes in Milan is a result of this conference and a key step toward 2012 and inclusion of canoe/kayak on the Paralympic program in London. USACK is working closely with CKC in addition to other ICF Nations to continue lobbying for this to occur.
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