Evy Liebfarth competes in canoe slalom.
Evy Leibfarth is so young that she didn’t meet the age requirement for competing in International Canoe Federation World Championships or world cup events until January, when she turned 15.
It hasn’t taken her long to prove what her entry into the world of high-level competition means for her future and the U.S. In just her second world cup competition ever, the 2020 Olympic hopeful from Bryson City, North Carolina, took bronze in women’s canoe at the ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup event in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on Sunday.
Competing in the women’s canoe singles final, Leibfarth finished in 110.69, just 7.73 behind winner Jessica Fox, a 25-year-old two-time Olympic medalist and nine-time world champion from Australia. Viktoria Wolffhardt of Austria, a three-time world medalist, finished second in 104.22.
Leibfarth has been well known in the U.S. paddling community for some time. In April 2018, she won both the junior women’s and women’s kayak races and was second in women’s canoe at the U.S. Slalom Team Trials to earn a spot on the national team, despite being too young to actually compete. She’s also won in both kayak and canoe at the national championships as well as other major races throughout the country.
Her coach and father is Lee Leibfarth, a former elite kayaker himself and former coach for the U.S. national team.
Leibfarth’s ultimate goal is to compete at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Women’s canoe will be contested at the 2020 Olympics for the first time in history, having been added to the schedule by the International Olympic Committee in 2017. Women will race in the C-1 200-meter and C-2 500-meter races, which were previously only open to men.
The U.S. has not had a historically strong showing in kayak and canoe at the Olympics, earning a total of 16 medals. Germany has the most Olympic gold medals with 36 and the most overall medals with 81.