Friday October 9th, 2015 8:03PM

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
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 )
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
(VIDEO) Game of the Week: GHS-Lanier to slug it out for 8-AAAAA supremacy
Both Gainesville and Lanier football hope to answer big questions on Friday night...
8:58PM ( 54 minutes from now )
(VIDEO) Week 7: Area teams facing playoff-like scenarios as region races heat up
The official start of the high school football playoffs isn't for another month. However, for some area teams, it may actually begin this Friday.
8:25PM ( 21 minutes from now )
Softball: Branch takes No. 3 seed from Region 8-AAAAA
The Flowery Branch softball team defeated Winder-Barrow 5-2 on Thursday to secure the No. 3 seed from Region 8-AAAAA.
By AccessWDUN Staff
1:55PM ( 6 hours ago )
NYC jury acquits Atlanta Hawks' Sefolosha in police fracas
Atlanta Hawks' player Thabo Sefolosha has been acquitted in a case stemming from a police fracas outside a trendy New York City nightclub.
By Associated Press
11:26AM ( 8 hours ago )
Falcons' Roddy White upbeat after meeting with Quinn
Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White returned to the team Thursday and said he was encouraged about his role following a meeting with coach Dan Quinn.
10:32AM ( 9 hours ago )