Lake Lanier in World Championship Races

1996 Olympic Rowing Venue on Lake Lanier
1996 Olympic Rowing Venue on Lake Lanier ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

It took 16 years for the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club to produce it’s first Olympian in Tim Hornsby who competed at the 2012 Games and is racing this weekend at the 2013 ICF ParaCanoe World Championships in Germany.

New USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint High Performance Manager Michele Eray is tasked with providing a road map for medal-winning performances at future World Championships and Olympic Games.

Eray, a 2008 Olympic finalist in the women’s K-4 500m, comes to the U.S. from South Africa. She is also the reigning Surfski World Champion, which recently held its first World Championships.

Among her goals for the U.S. Sprint program are to strengthen the club system, recruit new paddlers and identify the young paddlers with the most potential. She will be visiting the hubs of sprint racing across the country.

“You still need numbers to come into the system because the bigger your base, the higher your peak, hopefully,” Eray said. “Talent recruitment and detection is going to be a big part of this job, and for that you need to travel, because you need to find people. We have some fantastic clubs and coaches doing great work at their places.”

She will be based in Oklahoma City, where an increasing number of young paddlers are moving to in order to take part in Oklahoma City University’s one-of-its-kind varsity kayak program.

“With a country as big as America, it’s a bit hard to run a program if you try and spread it out,” Eray said. “The idea behind this is to centralize everything and obviously Oklahoma is central. Plus we’ve got the best facility in the country, so it makes sense to run everything out of here, or somewhere else where there is an established club and coach system.”

In the Oklahoma City Boathouse District, athletes have the three essentials necessary for any elite paddler – coaching, equipment and water to train on. Eray adds that support from parents and the community are two other necessities for Olympic hopefuls.

Three of the U.S. athletes competing at the World Championships have migrated to Oklahoma City from Maine (Kaitlyn McElroy), California (Maggie Hogan) and Iran (Arezou Montamedi). But Eray knows that creating Olympians doesn’t happen overnight.

It took 16 years for the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club to produce it’s first Olympian in Tim Hornsby (Atlanta, Ga.), who competed at the 2012 Games and is racing this weekend. The club is based at Lake Lanier, the site of the sprint racing for the Atlanta 1996 Olympics.

“As an athlete, you’re going to have to make a commitment,” Eray said. “If you want to do well, there is a lot of sacrifice involved. No one gets anywhere for free, there’s time and there’s effort. Paddling is a time sport, you don’t just start paddling and in a year you’re World Champion.”

You can learn more about the newest member of the USA Canoe/Kayak’s team by following Eray’s blog and Twitter account.

WHAT: 2013 ICF ParaCanoe World Championships

WHERE: Duisburg, Germany

WHEN: August 29 – Sept. 1

LINKS:Results. Video– live stream starting each day around 2am Eastern.

Click HERE to read a recap of ParaCanoe World Championships, which began Wednesday.

The following athletes will represent Team USA:

  • Tim Hornsby (Atlanta, Ga.) – men’s K-1 200m
  • Rob Finlayson (Gainesville, Ga.) – men’s C-1 200m
  • Ian Ross (Bethesda, Md.) – men’s C-1 1000m, C-1 500m, C-1 5000m
  • Ariel Farrar-Wellman (Bethesda, Md.) – women’s K-1 200m
  • Arezou Montamedi (Oklahoma City, Okla.) – women’s K-1 500m, K-1 1000m, K-1 5000m
  • Maggie Hogan (Oklahoma City, Okla.) – women’s K-2 500m, K-2 200m, K-2 1000m
  • Kaitlyn McElroy (Oklahoma City, Okla.) – women’s K-2 500m, K-2 200m, K-2 1000m

“We are looking forward to an exciting week of racing in Duisburg,” said USA Canoe/Kayak CEO Joe Jacobi. “Our goals vary from discipline to discipline and athlete to athlete but we see a great opportunity to see our program take a step forward over the next few weeks. I am grateful for the support of our coaches and staff on site as well as the leadership of our USA Canoe/Kayak Board Chair Bob Lally, who is attending his first Sprint and ParaCanoe World Championships.”

Click Here for the Lanier Canoe & Kayak Club

Headquartered in Oklahoma City, USA Canoe/Kayak is a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Canoe Federation. It governs the Olympic disciplines of Flatwater Sprint, Whitewater Slalom, the Paralympic discipline of Paracanoe and sanctions Freestyle, Marathon, Outrigger, Wildwater, Stand Up Paddle Board, Kayak Polo, Dragon Boat and Canoe Sailing in the United States. For more information about USA Canoe/Kayak, please visit us on the web, on Twitter at @usacanoekayak and Like us on Facebook at

About Author

Robert J. Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life in Gainesville, GA.
Robert has two adult daughters, seven practically perfect grandchildren and a zippy Kawasaki. Contact Robert at [email protected].

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