One Lanier Canoe & Kayak Club paddler is heading for the Tokyo Olympics July 23-Aug. 8, while others have a chance to make the Games.
Nevin Harrison, who relocated to Gainesville from Seattle last year to train with LCKC Head Coach/Team USA Coach Zsolt Szadovsky, had secured a spot for the Olympics last summer, but the Games were postponed until this year. The reigning World Champion in the one-woman canoe 200-meters race won the event in March at the American Canoe Association Sprint Canoe/Kayak National Team Trial in Sarasota, Fl. She also won the single 500-meters race.
Said Harrison, “I think I was more nervous than I expected.” The 18-year-old reflected on her first races of 2021. “I haven’t raced the other girls within the U.S. for almost two years, so it was a little nerve-wracking.”
LCKC athlete Stanton Collins also experienced a little anxiety in the 20-meter single kayak final against teammate Owen Farley-Klacik. The 26-year-old Gainesville native said “This was a tricky race for me because it was the first time I raced since 2019. Getting back in racing mode was tough for me to do after such a long break.”
Farley-Klacik said it was fun giving his older teammate and mentor a challenge. The Gainesville native won the men’s double kayak 1000-meter race with teammate, Alex Lee.
Shaye Hatchette, a newer Gainesville resident, also earned a spot on the National team, finishing second in the single kayak 200 and in a double kayak 500 meters with partner Kaitlin McElroy, of Oklahoma. Hatchette, a former gymnast who has been training three years with LCKC, was one of the winners of a USA Canoe training camp competition, “The Next Olympic Hopeful” in 2018.
Collins, who has been paddling with LCKC since he was nine years old, has made the Games a goal for most of his life. He and other LCKC athletes have a final chance to qualify May 20-23 in the International Canoe Federation Olympic Qualifier in Barnaul, Russia. Normally, Olympic hopefuls from the Americas race for Olympic slots at the Pan American Games; however the event in Brazil was canceled.
LCKC Coach, Zsolt SzadovskiLCKC coach Zsolt Szadovsky explained that in Russia athletes will be racing for quota spots allocated to the country, not the athletes who earned them, allowing countries the choice of who they will send to the Games.
“Potentially every slot is open – the athlete just needs to earn the Olympic quota,” he said.
In April, Collins prepared for his time to shine in Russia. “There’s a lot more to do between now and when I go race for an Olympic quota in Russia, but I’m excited to do the work.”