Stories from Seattle: 2012 U.S. Sprint National Championships
Day Three USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint Nationals:
Brown Sets Sights on Paracanoe
Two weeks ago Rob Brown picked up a paddle for the first time since the 2011 ICF Sprint World Championships in Hungary last August.
“I’ve been focusing on track,” said Brown, who narrowly missed qualifying for the 2012 Paralympic Games in track and field. “The first paddle went as expected. I swam.”
The challenge didn’t faze Brown, who took multiple bullets to his right hip and leg while serving in Iraq in 2006. When it became clear his doctors could not save his leg, they amputated in 2008.
“It was a rough two years,” recalls Brown. “I had to walk with a cane and had difficulties managing the pain. Once they took the leg everything began looking up.”
In 2007 Brown began whitewater kayaking, then took up sprint in 2009. But the sport had yet to be added as a Paralympic event, which meant it was ineligible for support through the Army’s World Class Athlete Program. Brown is part of this initiative that provides outstanding soldier-athletes the support and training to compete in national and international competitions leading to Olympic and Paralympic Games, while maintaining a professional military career.
“Now that paracanoe will be at the Rio Games I want to train in both,” said Brown. “A win here at the USA Canoe/Kayak Nationals is key to show that I have medal potential in the sport.”
Brown did pull off a win in his second race of the day, covering the 200-meter course in 51.6 seconds.
“I’m hopeful, but I’m just taking it as it comes and focusing on having a good experience.”
Olympians Pass the Torch at USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Championships
Barlow, Johnson, Malloch, Hornsby, and Barton Inspire America’s Next Generation of Olympic Hopefuls
Five of America’s Olympians in sprint canoe/kayak were at national championships this year, each playing a role to inspire the younger participants.
Chris Barlow, head coach and founder of the San Diego Canoe Kayak Team and 1992 Olympian, is really happy to see how the sport is growing.
“The closeness and competitiveness of the events is great for all the athletes. This event is so important; it provides all the kids the opportunity to go out and race. If every athlete goes out and has the best race of their lives, regardless of if they medal, if they follow their race plan then that makes them winners.”
Three-time Olympian Carrie Johnson (2004, 2008, and 2012) hopes to stay involved in the sport. Johnson returned from the London Games and began veterinary school this month.
“I’ll be focusing on school for the next few years, but I would really like to do what my coach Stein Jorgensen did for me – to work with a group of people who are really interested in succeeding and take them to the next level, helping with whatever I can by sharing the what I’ve learned through my experiences,” Johnson said.
“It’s cool to see so many younger kids in the sport – we’ve got a good base to build a great senior team in the future.”
Two-time Olympian Jordan Malloch (2000 and 2004) agrees that the large number of participants at the event will play a role in growing canoe/kayak.
“I think this is a great sport to be part of because it’s a lot of fun, you get to be on the water, and you get a great workout, building endurance, strength and balance,” Malloch said. “And you meet so many great people in the padding community here and around the world. Those relationships become pretty special – some of the closest friends in my life I’ve made through paddling.”
Tim Hornsby, who just returned from the 2012 Olympic Games in London, is also encouraged by the number of participants.
“For me it’s exciting to see all the kids follow the same path I did – coming to nationals for the experience, then to get a medal, then to try to get multiple medals. At nationals everyone gets to see their friends from other clubs, to build a special environment,” Hornsby said.
Hornsby is hopeful that many of the participants at this year’s event will continue to excel.
“The opportunities are limitless with this sport – I went to Canada to race when I was 11 and started racing in Europe when I was 14. This is fun, and if you’re passionate about it you’ll keep going and you’ll succeed.”
America’s most decorated Olympic paddler Greg Barton takes those words to heart. The three-time Olympian (1984, 1988, and 1992) raced in the senior men’s k1 event this week, winning bronze in the 1000-meter event, finishing seventh in the 500-meter event and just missing the final for the 200-meter race.
“This has been an exciting event – we have as many paddlers here as I have ever seen at nationals. I think the addition of the 200 meter race at the Olympics provides a great growth opportunity for athletes to specialize in a race distance so we’ll end up with paddlers who can do the 200 really well and paddlers who can do the 1000 really well,” said Barton.
“I think the younger paddlers are seeing this sport is fun, and also realizing they have to train hard and race smart and think about what they want to accomplish here while they are training during the rest of the year.”
Day Two USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint Nationals:
Brother Learn To Canoe A Month Before Nationals
One month before nationals, Paul and Daniel Chevallier’s coach told them to start practicing canoeing, because that’s what they would race in at the 2012 USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Championships. For most people, picking up the sport of canoeing in a month would be nearly impossible. But coaches Chris Barlow and Rachel Marsucon had a feeling the Chevalliers could handle it.
The brothers, aged 14 and 15, joined the San Diego Canoe/Kayak Club a year ago to focus on stand up paddle boards, and proved naturals for the sport of high kneel canoe.
“They (Paul and Daniel) tried canoe because they wanted to improve their SUP skills,” said Kim Chevallier, the boy’s mother.
“Dan got into the canoe and paddled 200 meters then fell. I thought ‘Oh, I guess he’s not cut out for this,’ but the coaches were very excited – to paddle 200 meters your first time in a canoe is unheard of!” said Kim.
“After each practice the boys would come up to me and say ‘Coach I fell in nine times.’ Then it was ‘Coach, I feel in five times.” And finally it was ‘Coach, I didn’t fall in today,” said Barlow.
While the brothers did not contest for any medals this go around, they made it down the race course in each of their events without falling.
“They met their objectives – they didn’t fall in,” said Barlow. “And, they made their mother happy by making it down the race course together in the two-man canoe without fighting.”
Paul Chevallier enjoys the challenge canoe provides and encourages others to try it.
“I’d tell them it’s cool. If you can do it, you have the opportunity to do well because it’s something not many people are getting into just yet.”
Based on the success of the Chevallier’s, Coach Marsucon will look to other SUP athletes as prospects for the sport.
“The more people who see and try this sport the better,” said Marsucon. “I think we’ll really see a lot of growth in canoe.”
Iranian Paddler Competes in First USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint Nationals, Finds Home in OKC
Paddling at USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Championships provides invaluable race experience for many. And for 23-year-old Arezou Motamedi who came to the United States a few months ago, racing at the national championships confirms she is on the path to realizing a dream that brought her to this country.
“I learned to paddle six years ago and was on the Iranian national canoe/kayak team for five years. I knew if I wanted to improve my performance, I needed to come to the U.S.,” said Motamedi.
When researching places to train, she learned about the Oklahoma City National High Performance Center.
“I have family in California so that is where I went when I first got here. I told them I wanted to go to Oklahoma and they told me I wouldn’t like it, but I love it there, the people are really nice, which is really important to me. And, I have raced with Iran at World Cups and World Championships and I have never seen anything like the training center in Oklahoma City. It’s amazing,” she said.
Motamedi is currently taking courses at a community college to improve her English and plans to enroll in a degree program next spring.
“My parents are so happy for me to be in America to pursue my two dreams; to get my education and to reach the highest level I can in kayaking. This is an amazing opportunity for me that I would not have in Iran.”
Motamedi’s decision to move was validated today, as she took bronze in the senior women’s 500 meter single kayak event.
“Being here at the nationals is a good experience for me. I’m hoping to do my very best and will keep working hard so I can make it to the Olympics and race for the USA.”
Day One USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint Nationals:
Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club Hosts 2012 USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Championships
America’s Canoe and Kayak racers of all ages are in Seattle this week to cap off their sprint season. Building off of a successful event at the Lake Placid International Regatta in July, the 2012 USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Championships is the largest it’s been in five years, with 313 participants racing in multiple canoe (athletes kneel in a boat and use a single-bladed paddle) and kayak (athletes sit in a boat and use a double-bladed paddle) events over 1000 meter, 500 meter and 200 meter distances. Racing continues Friday and Saturday. The event concludes Sunday with the USA Canoe/Kayak Masters National Championships.
Two-time Olympian Jordan Malloch is co-chairing the local organizing committee for the event.
“We’re proud to continue the tradition of hosting the national championships here in Seattle,” said Malloch, who learned to paddle at the Seattle Canoe/Kayak club in 1992.
“Paddling gave me a focal point in my life and taught me how hard work and discipline can help you attain your goals. Hosting this championship is a way I can give back to the sport by giving young paddlers the chance to learn all of the skills that I’ve learned,” said Malloch.
For complete results and live streaming of the event visit seattlecanoeclub.org.
USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Championships will be held in Oklahoma City in 2013.
Chickasaw Paddler Makes History in Seattle:
Wampler First Chickasaw Paddler to Medal at Canoe/Kayak Nationals
Today 12-year-old Garrett Wampler became the first paddler from the Chickasaw Nation to medal at the USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Championships.
Wampler, a member of the OKC RIVERSPORT Chickasaw Paddling Team, raced for Oklahoma City in a composite boat with paddlers from the Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club to win a gold medal in the bantam (ages 13 and under) men’s 1000 meter event.
Wampler was the first participant to join the Chickasaw paddling program when it launched in Oklahoma City in 2011.
Gig Harbor Comes to Seattle With a Mission
Ten years ago Alan Anderson started the Gig Harbor Canoe/Kayak club in Washington state with two athletes and a parking lot. Today, the Gig Harbor racing team comes to Seattle with 48 athletes poised to fulfill part of the team’s the mission statement penned a decade ago: win a national championship.
“We’ve gotten our share of gold today. It’s exciting to see our athletes, especially the little kids, win gold in their races,” said Anderson.
Since the inception of the Gig Harbor club, Anderson has worked hard to develop a program that serves his athletes and his community. With a shot at being the top overall club at the 2012 USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Championships came the decision to structure his competitive program for the year to dominate the field.
Anderson’s well-rounded program includes athletes in all age ranges racing in both canoe (athlete is in a high kneel position and uses a single-bladed paddle) and kayak (athlete sits in a boat and uses a double-bladed paddle) events. And Gig Harbor has also developed adaptive athletes to compete in paracanoe, which makes its debut at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil.
“Thanks to a grant from the United State Paralympic Committee, we’ve been able to work with the Wounded Warriors program and have three athletes who will compete in the paracanoe events. Paraconoe has become a really great component of our club,” Anderson said.
Emerging as the overall champions at this event has great implications for Gig Harbor.
“If we can achieve this goal, can bring this accomplishment back to our community, it will go a long ways towards helping us achieve the second part of our original mission statement and build a permanent home for our club.”
Competition will be streamed live from Seattle. You can view from here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/us-canoe-kayak-nationals.