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Teenage Canoe Star Nevin Harrison Claims Silver At Olympic Test Event

By Chrös McDougall | Sept. 13, 2019, 12:06 p.m. (ET)

Nevin Harrison celebrating her gold medal win in the 200-meter C1 canoe sprint finals at the Pan American Games Lima 2019 on July 30, 2019 in Lima, Peru.


Teenage paddler Nevin Harrison is on a roll.

Less than three weeks after the 17-year-old became the first American to win a world title in a canoe sprint event, and less than one year before women’s canoe makes its Olympic debut at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, Harrison won a silver medal in women’s C1 200-meter Friday at the sport’s Olympic and Paralympic test event.

After winning her semifinal in the early session, Harrison finished the final in 50.665 seconds, just behind winner Ksenia Kurach of Russia, who clocked in at 50.371. Poland’s Dorota Borowska was third in 50.361.

The result continues a breakout season for the Seattle native.

In August, Harrison also won the C1 200-meter event at the world championships in Hungary.

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Canoe/kayak has been an Olympic medal event since 1936, with women competing in kayak since 1948, though the International Olympic Committee more recently adjusted the program in an effort to improve gender balance. In Tokyo, women will compete in the C1 200-meter and C2 500-meter, which until now had only been contested by men.

The addition of women’s sprint canoe events — in which competitors race head-to-head over a straight course on flat water — has opened the door for Harrison.

Should she qualify for Tokyo, she could potentially become youngest woman ever to earn gold in Olympic canoe or kayak, breaking the record of Germany’s Birgit Fischer-Schmidt. Fischer-Schmidt was 18 when she won her first of eight gold medals in 1980.

This week’s test event was also notable as organizers tested a cooling mechanism for fans, spraying artificial snow over those in the bleachers at the Sea Forest Waterway venue. Organizers are still deciding whether to use the snow machines during the Games.

Sea Forest Seaway, which is in the Tokyo Bay area and roughly 15 minutes from the main Olympic Village, will also host rowing during next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The ICF Canoe Sprint Olympic & Paracanoe Paralympic Test Event concludes on Sunday.

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

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