GAINESVILLE – It took them years of hard work and discipline to reach this point in their lives, but on Thursday six world-class athletes and their coaches took time to autograph a banner that would hang on the clubhouse wall while they were away from the place where so much of their training has been centered: the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club training center on Lake Lanier.
These young athletes and their coach are headed to central Europe for a World Cup Championship and summer Olympic qualifier. First stop: Hungary, then on to Russia.
Among those in the local contingent of the U.S.A. Sprint Canoe / Kayak Team is Nevin Harrison. Harrison is the reigning two-time world champion in the C1 200-meter event and as such has already qualified for Team USA at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. (Note: the Summer Olympics were scheduled for 2020 but due to COVID the games have been delayed until 2021.)
While Harrison isn’t originally from Hall County, several of her teammates are, including Stanton Collins, Owen Farley-Klacik, Walter Peck, Jr. and Coach Shay Hatchett.
Alex Lee is possibly the farthest away from his home and family, nearly 4700 miles. Lee is from the island of Oahu.
He said it was while training in Hawaii that he met Team USA coach, Zsolt Szadovszki. “After I graduated college my head coach, Zsolt, traveled to Lanier and became the head coach here, and so, upon graduating I moved out here and trained with him full time.” Lee said he has been in Gainesville for nearly two years and has come to enjoy life in the area.
Jim O’Dell, Executive Director of LCKC, said, “Funding for these athletes is all self-generated.”
Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club is a living legacy of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Founded in 1994, the club has introduced paddle sports to thousands of youth and adults. In addition to sprint canoe/kayak, the club offers programs and events in marathon canoe/kayak, dragon boating, recreation, and stand-up paddleboarding. Follow this link to find out more about the club.