Sprint National Team Vies for Olympic Slots, Pan American Medals

Oct. 24, 2011, 12:15 a.m. (ET)

Day 4 Recap:

The U.S. Sprint National Team finished strong at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, earning three medals and an additional Olympic slot on Saturday, the final day of racing at the Ciudad Guzman Rowing and Canoeing Course. It was appropriate that U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun would visit the venue as a medals presenter for the day.

Team USA will return home with two gold medals, two bronze medals and two starting positions at the London 2012 Olympic Games. For complete results, click HERE.

Carrie Johnson (San Diego, Calif.) won her second gold medal in as many days, finishing first in the Women’s K1 200m final. Click HERE to read a Q&A with Johnson.

Carrie Johnson, Women’s Kayak: “I am very excited. I had a good race this morning. Overall, it's great to have qualified the quota spot and it's a bit of confidence booster to have won both races. It's a great way to end the 2011 season.”

The 200m final began with two false starts, adding to the tension for the second to last race of the day. The two-time Olympian trailed Cuban Darisleydis Amador for the first 180 meters, but Johnson was able to maintain her speed and power through to the win. She finished in 41.803, 0.037 seconds ahead of Cuban runner-up.

Ryan Dolan (Kailua, Hawaii) benefited from an exception to the Olympic qualification rule to unofficially earn an Olympic slot for Team USA. Dolan won the bronze medal in the Men’s K1 200m final. Dolan crossed the line in 36.547, 0.576 seconds behind the Cesar Ernesto De Cesare of Ecuador.

The result was good enough to qualify an Olympic slot for Team USA in the event, pending an official announcement from International Canoe Federation. The first and second place finishers from Ecuador and Argentina, respectively, had already qualified Olympic slots in other events at the 2011 Pan American Games and 2011 World Championships, allowing the third place finisher to earn the Olympic slot. Who fills the spots for Team USA will be determined by performances at the 2012 National Team Trials and the first stop on the 2012 World Cup circuit.

Guy Wilding, Men’s National Team Coach: “Only the people involved in this sport know how incredibly tough it is these days to qualify for the Olympic Games in sprint canoe. ... Ryan Dolan has just turned 21 years old. He is a true Hawaiian waterman and although he has only been in the Olympic kayak for a relatively short time, he excels in all paddle sports. He has done extremely well so far and it goes without saying that he has enormous potential. I am extremely happy for him, for his family and for all the people in Hawaii that have shown faith in Ryan and supported him to get this far.”

Maggie Hogan (San Diego, Calif.) and Kaitlyn McElroy (Oklahoma City, Okla.) won the bronze medal in the Women’s K2 500m, finishing in 1:48.718 (1.386 seconds behind the first place boat from Cuba). The Oklahoma City training partners reached the final after winning their preliminary heat, recording the second fastest time across both heats.

Ryan Dolan teamed up with Tim Hornsby (Atlanta, Ga.) to place 5th in the Men’s K2 200m final, finishing in 33.403 (1.028 seconds behind the Canadian gold medal-winning boat). Robert Finlayson (Gainesville, Ga.) placed 8th in the C1 200m final, finishing in 44.239 (3.9016 seconds behind the first place finisher from Canada).

Joe Jacobi, USA Canoe/Kayak CEO: "We're very proud of the performance of our Sprint athletes at the Pan Am Games. Carrie, Maggie, Kaitie and Ryan represented their country and sport as champions and have created great momentum for the program heading toward to London."

William Irving, USA Canoe/Kayak National Teams Director: “The team overall had a great performance at the Pan Am Games and have continued to make the improvements needed to be successful in the sport. Carrie set the momentum for the team with the gold in the 500m followed by her second gold in the 200m. Both Ryan and Carrie will only get better as they get ready to defend their slots to make the Olympic Team and compete for medals in 2012. Although we only qualified two Olympic placings, overall our team is pretty young and with a lot of hard work and experience they will only continue to develop and get faster.”

...

Day 3 Recap:

Carrie Johnson won the gold medal in the Women’s K1 500m final Friday at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. The first place finish guarantees the U.S. a boat quota slot in the event at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

““It is really cool,” Johnson said. “It feels very good, especially since along with [the gold medal] goes Olympic qualification for the U.S. I think the biggest part is really having that quota spot now.” 

Oklahoma City training partners Maggie Hogan and Kaitlyn McElroy finished first in their K2 500m heat, advancing directly to Saturday’s final at the Ciudad Guzman Rowing and Canoeing Course. The duo turned in a time of 1:49.517, second across both heats behind a boat from Cuba.

Morgan House (Gainesville, Ga.) placed 6th in the K1 1000m final, finishing in 3:48.065 (6.808 seconds behind the gold medal-winning boat from Cuba). Robert Finlayson placed 6th in the C1 1000m final, finishing in 4:34.301 (31.013 seconds behind the first place finisher from Mexico).

Luke Michael (Kailua, Hawaii), and Jake Michael (Kailua, Hawaii) finished 7th in the K2 1000m final with a time of 3:30.577 (13.347 behind the gold medalists from Canada). 

The sprint canoe/kayak events conclude Saturday with five U.S. boats competing for medals and Olympic slots. Carrie Johnson will compete in the Women’s K1 200m final. Hogan and McElroy will race in the Women’s K2 500m final. Ryan Dolan will compete in both the Men’s K1 200m final and the K2 200m final with Tim Hornsby. Robert Finlayson will race in the Men’s C1 200m final.

...

Day 2 Recap:

Eight U.S. sprint athletes competed Thursday at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. The four who were paddling toward Olympic qualification all remain in the hunt. The day began with a one-hour fog delay at the Ciudad Guzman Rowing and Canoeing Course.

Carrie Johnson finished first in her K1 200m heat, advancing directly to Saturday’s final. She finished in 41.827. Her time was good for first overall, 0.049 seconds ahead of the second fastest finisher from Cuba.

Ryan Dolan placed 2nd in his K1 200m heat, advancing straight to Saturday’s final round. He crossed the line in 36.397, good for 2nd overall behind a paddler from Ecuador.

Ryan Dolan then teamed up with Tim Hornsby to finish 2nd in their K2 200m heat, advancing to Saturday’s final. The duo finished in 32.891, good for 3rd overall behind boats from Canada and Argentina.

Robert Finlayson took a longer route to the finals. He finished 5th in his C1 200m heat and advanced to the semifinal where he placed 2nd to qualify for Saturday’s final. He finished the semifinal round in 43.078.

The U.S. Men’s K4 boat placed 7th in its 1000m final. They finished in 3:09.127, eight seconds behind the gold medalist boat from Cuba. The boat was comprised of Morgan House, Patrick Dolan (Kailua, Hawaii), and Australian-American twins Luke and Jake Michael

Friday marks the first day in which athletes can qualify Olympic boat quota slots for Team USA. Finlayson, House and the K2 1000m boat of Luke and Jake Michael will compete in one-off finals where the winner earns a slot for their country at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Finlayson will race in the Men’s C1 1000m final while House will compete in the Men’s K1 1000m final.

Carrie Johnson will compete in the Women’s K1 500m final after recording the third fastest time in Wednesday’s heats. It will be the first of two finals in which the two-time Olympian can earn a 2012 Olympic slot for Team USA. Maggie Hogan and Kaitlyn McElroy will race in the preliminary heats and semifinals for Women’s K2 500m.

QUOTES:

Ryan Dolan, Men’s Kayak:

“I had some nerves going into the heats, which is just a normal first day of racing for me. It is something to work off of for Saturday.”

“I feel good. I’m not really trying to worry too much about others. Of course, results mean Olympic qualifying, but I’m just focusing on doing the best I can. I think I have a good shot and that’s the goal.”

“Everyone’s really excited to race. It’s a big event with a lot of weight on it and everyone’s focused on doing their jobs. I think we all have a similar focus in mind, so being in the finals is a good start to the weekend. Everyone’s attitudes are up, which is always good.”

...

Day 1 Recap:

Carrie Johnson finished first in her K1 500m heat Wednesday, advancing directly to Friday’s final at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. She finished in 1:59.353 at the Ciudad Guzman Rowing and Canoeing Course. Her time was good for third overall, behind paddlers from Canada and Argentina.

"I'm feeling really good going into the final,” Johnson said. “I don't think my time today reflects my abilities. I did what I needed to do to get into the finals."

The two-time Olympian was the only U.S. paddler competing Wednesday. The winner of Friday’s final will earn a 2012 Olympic boat quota slot for Team USA.

“It is obviously a high-pressure situation,” Johnson said. “I've been in those situations before and I am prepared to handle the stress and pressure of the situation and be ready to go."

Johnson will also compete in Thursday’s K1 200m heats. Also on Thursday’s slate is the Men’s K4 1000m final and the preliminary heats and semifinals for Men’s K1 200m, Men’s C1 200m, and Men’s K2 200m. Each event features a U.S. boat and all 10 members of Team USA will be in action. All but the Men’s K4 will be competing with Olympic slots on the line.

Representing the U.S. are:

WOMEN

Carrie Johnson (San Diego, Calif.) - K1 200m, K1 500m

Maggie Hogan (San Diego, Calif.) - K2 500m

Kaitlyn McElroy (Oklahoma City, Okla.) - K2 500m

MEN

Luke Michael (Kailua, Hawaii) - K2 1000m, K4 1000m

Jake Michael (Kailua, Hawaii) - K2 1000m, K4 1000m

Ryan Dolan (Kailua, Hawaii) - K1 200m, K2 200m

Patrick Dolan (Kailua, Hawaii) - K4 1000m

Tim Hornsby (Atlanta, Ga.) - K2 200m

Morgan House (Gainesville, Ga.) - K1 1000m, K4 1000m

Robert Finlayson (Gainesville, Ga.) - C1 200m, C1 1000m 

COACHES

Guy Wilding, Men’s National Team Coach

Stein Jorgensen, Women’s National Team K1 Coach

Shaun Caven, Team Leader, Women’s National Team K2 Coach

...

Preview:

The U.S. Sprint Team heads to the 2011 Pan American Games with a lot on the line. In addition to medals, many of the athletes will be competing to qualify boat quota slots for Team USA at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Guadalajara, Mexico will host the 2011 Pan American Games, Oct. 14-30. The sprint canoe/kayak events will be held Oct. 26-29 in Ciudad Guzman. Slalom canoe/kayak is not part of the 2011 Pan American Games program.

U.S. sprint paddlers were unable to earn slots for Team USA at the first Olympic qualifier - the 2011 Sprint World Championships in August. The Pan American Games represent the second and final chance to qualify sprint spots for London 2012.

For the U.S. to earn an Olympic slot at the Pan American Games, the boat must win its event. This applies to all U.S. boats except for the Men’s K4, which could only qualify at the World Championships.

The athletes that qualify the Olympic slots are not necessarily the ones that will compete for the U.S. at London 2012. The 2012 U.S. Olympic Team will be determined by performances at the 2012 National Team Trials and the first stop on the 2012 World Cup circuit.

Two-time Olympian Carrie Johnson will attempt to take the next step toward her third Games. At the 2010 Pan American Championships, Johnson earned the gold medal in the K1 500m and bronze in the K1 200m. Johnson teamed up with Maggie Hogan to claim the silver medal in the K2 500m at the 2010 Pan Ams. This year, Hogan will paddle with Kaitlyn McElroy in the K2 500m boat. McElroy won a K2 1000m bronze medal at the 2011 World Cup No. 2 and placed fourth at the 2010 Pan Ams, both with Jen Burke (Oklahoma City, Okla.). Click HERE to read about the new pairing of Hogan and McElroy, who have been training together in Oklahoma City.

Australian-American identical twins Luke and Jake Michael will look to qualify for London in their first full season as members of Team USA. Boats including both brothers won four national titles at the 2011 National Championships. They will be joined in the Men’s K4 1000m boat by Morgan House and Patrick Dolan. Together, the K4 pairing placed as high as 15th in the 2011 World Cup No. 3.

K2 200m tandem Ryan Dolan and Tim Hornsby finished as high as 15th in the 2011 World Cup No 3 and placed sixth at the 2010 Pan American Championships. Individually, Ryan Dolan won the bronze medal in the K1 500m at the 2010 Pan Ams. Canoeist Robert Finlayson won four national titles at the 2011 Sprint National Championships.

QUOTES

Luke Michael, Men’s Kayak: “I am very excited about the upcoming Olympic qualifier in Guadalajara, Mexico. After a long and eventful season on an off the water, it will be great to put all the hard work and training into one of the most important races of the year. It will be the first time Jake [Michael] and I race as a K2 for USA needing to win the event against a very strong field of competitors all wishing to get to the London Olympic Games next year. We are very excited and looking forward to showing the world we are ready and coming for them.”

Jake Michael, Men’s Kayak: “I’m very excited about heading over to Mexico to paddle with my brother in the K2 and have a shot at qualifying a spot for the London Olympic Games. What better place to do it than at the next best thing - the Pan American Games.”

Maggie Hogan, Women’s Kayak: “Honestly, I’m not concerned about the other competitors. [Kaitlyn McElroy and I] have to go there and we have a job to do and we know what that job is. I think if we control what we can control, and that’s making the boat run as well as we can make it run, I think we have a very good shot at qualifying the boat. But I want to be more of a process-oriented K2 than a results-oriented K2.”

Kaitlyn McElroy, Women’s Kayak: “[Maggie Hogan and I are] really coming together and learning how to focus on what we’re doing and do that well. If you can do that well, then the results are going to come. I’m really excited to give racing a shot from that angle.”

Robert Finlayson, Men’s Canoe: “This event will end a long season for me. It will be the culmination of many months of hard training and effort. I am looking forward to racing in Mexico as a chance to qualify for the Olympics and race against some great athletes.”

Shaun Caven, National Team Coach: “You’ve got to be aiming at the Olympic qualification as the main goal. Obviously, to get that you have to do your absolute best because it’s going to be a tough competition. Although it’s a relatively small competition in terms of the total number of entries, it’s high quality entries. Anytime you have the U.S., Cuba, Canada, Mexico and Argentina involved, for the gold medal, you’ve got to have a top quality athlete to get there.”

Guy Wilding, National Team Coach: “Make no mistake, the competition will be fierce and nothing less than a gold medal will secure an Olympic allocation. But our athletes are well prepared and ready to represent their country with pride.”

William Irving, National Teams Director: "The Pan Am Games will be the last opportunity for our athletes to qualify boats for the 2012 Olympic Games. The athletes went back to work in their singles and K2 boats after a disappointing World Championships and are anxious to get to Mexico and compete."

USA Canoe/Kayak is proud to launch “Ascend As One,” an exciting campaign in which we inspire the next generation of U.S. paddlers by supporting our current Olympic Hopefuls. Our Sprint Clubs and Community are teaming up to make sure our athletes can focus on what’s most important – winning medals on the international stage and representing the United States with pride. To contribute, click HERE and select “Ascend As One” from the drop down menu. 100% of all donations directly benefit our Sprint National Program Athletes and Coaches. 

USA Canoe/Kayak is a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Canoe Federation. It governs the Olympic disciplines of Flatwater Sprint and Whitewater Slalom and sanctions Freestyle, Marathon, Outrigger, Wildwater, Kayak Polo, Dragon Boat and Canoe Sailing in the United States. For more information about USA Canoe/Kayak, please visit us on the web at www.usack.org and on Facebook and Twitter.

Comments