cloudy
Sunday May 3rd, 2015 4:04PM

UNG student from Gainesville training for Olympics

By Staff
DAHLONEGA - On a typical Monday at 7 a.m., many college students are just beginning to stir and prepare for the day's classes. However, Ben Hefner of Gainesville, a senior majoring in physics at the University of North Georgia (UNG), is already on the water, training for a berth with Team USA as a flat water sprint canoeist for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Hefner, a graduate of North Hall High School, who recently took second place in the individual 200-meter sprint canoe and third place in the 1,000-meter at the U.S. National Team Trials in Oklahoma City, Okla., will graduate from UNG in spring 2014 and focus the next two years on training. He also took first place in the two-man 1,000-meter sprint canoe with partner Ian Ross.

"Ben is a top athlete; it's very tough to train and go to school, but he is very responsible," said Claudiu Cuir, Hefner's coach and a world champion canoeist from Romania. "He is very strong and can really move through the water. Ben is a little younger than most of his competition, but he has great potential and drive. He spends three months every summer training in Europe with some of my connections."

Hefner began paddling in 2005 on Lake Lanier at the age of 13 at the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club in Gainesville, where the 1996 Olympic events were held. The following year he won the national championship in the 500 meter and 1000 meter sprint for his age group.

"I could see that I had a future and set my eyes on making the national team," Hefner said. "In this sport, in order to be competitive at the world championships and to make the Olympic team, I have to compete internationally. My love for the sport and my commitment to excellence fuels my desire to compete."

That commitment includes much more than the early-morning paddles. Hefner follows-up his sunrise session with a one-hour weight circuit, a second paddle set at 10 a.m., and a third paddle set from 4 to 6 p.m. He runs in the evenings.

Though he plans to take time off for training and for the Olympics, Hefner plans to attend graduate school later to major in astrophysics or nuclear physics. His ultimate dream is to become an astronaut.

"Ben is very smart and a hard worker, and a member of the UNG Honors Program," said Dr. Richard Prior, head of UNG's Department of Physics and Hefner's academic advisor. "He does a really good job of handling his dual responsibilities as a student and an excellent athlete. Ben is a leader among our majors as president of the Society of Physics Students, and is well-liked by them and the faculty members. Besides being one of our best students, he also works as a lab assistant and tutor for introductory physics classes."
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Bartus, Icemen shuts out Gwinnett
Garrett Bartus pitched a 42 save shutout, as the Evansville IceMen topped the Gwinnett Gladiators on a New year
10:23PM ( 1 year ago )
Gator Bowl Preview Capsule
A rematch of last year's Capital One Bowl, which Georgia won 45-31 in Orlando.
8:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Millsap's 34 leads Hawks past Celtics
Paul Millsap had season highs with 34 points and 15 rebounds as the Hawks rallied from an 18-point deficit for a 92-91 win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday afternoon.
7:44PM ( 1 year ago )
Sports
Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
7:04PM ( 1 year ago )
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Coach Quinn believes 1st NFL draft with Falcons a success
General manager Thomas Dimitroff and new coach Dan Quinn say the Atlanta Falcons got exactly what they were looking for on the last day of the NFL draft.
3:40PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Golf: Red Elephants surge back to claim Invite crown over Marist
The Gainesville boys golf team staged a second-round comeback on Saturday to claim The Invite crown at Chattahoochee Golf Club in Gainesville.
11:53AM ( 4 hours ago )
David Ragan ready to move to Michael Waltrip Racing
David Ragan’s tenure in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota comes to an end with the GEICO 500 and he’ll be moving onto his third team in 11 races—“a little weird, for sure,” he acknowledged—when the Sprint Cup schedule resumes at Kansas Speedway on May 9.
By Mark McCarter-NASCAR Wire Service
8:00AM ( 8 hours ago )
Reds notch 8-4 win over Braves
Jay Bruce powered two long triples, Marlon Byrd broke out of his slump and Zack Cozart had three hits to lead the Reds to an 8-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night.
10:42PM ( 17 hours ago )
American Pharoah gives trainer a long-awaited 4th Derby win
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Three times in seven years, Bob Baffert left the Kentucky Derby empty-handed. Two seconds and a sixth-place finish by the wagering favorite.After a while, those close calls star...
9:28PM ( 18 hours ago )