COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) – It’s here! More than 100 athletes representing more than a dozen countries are in Fountain City this week for the International Canoe Federation competition.
Monday kicks off the preliminaries to find out who will qualify for Wednesday’s big race.
The best freestyle paddlers in the world are here in the Chattahoochee Valley to compete in the 2022 World Cups and 2023 World Championships.
Some athletes, who have been training for decades, have explained what it takes to reach that pinnacle in a kayaking career. Gav Barker from Great Britain arrived in Fountain City two weeks ago to prepare for the big race: “We trained on ‘Ambush’ here, three days of training here. Four days of “good wave” in the city. Last week we just did more of that.
Eric Jackson of Rock Island, Tennessee is no newbie to the sport: “I’ve been kayaking for a while. I was first on Team USA in 1989…and I’ve been on Team USA ever since, so how many years has it been…about 30 years.
For the Jacksons… it’s a family affair.
“My son is in competition. My daughter and my son-in-law are also in competition. My son-in-law is paddling for Canada, but my daughter and son are both American. My son is in first or second place right now, and my son-in-law is winning. I’m somewhere in the middle… not exactly sure.
Fabian Lenz from Germany said the water here is different so he practiced for days for a one-up. He explained that the hospitality in the Ville Fontaine has been excellent.
“It was interesting,” Lenz told News 9 frontman Ashlee Williams. The restaurants are nice here. The style of restoration is different from Germany, but very interesting. I like the weather…”
The competition… taking months to prepare and dozens of hands to make it happen.
“We have a host committee of about 40 people who have put a lot of their time and energy into putting this event together,” Tracey Greene of Uptown Columbus Inc. told us. “Whitewater Express, the City of Columbus and the City of Phenix City…there are so many organizations that helped make this event happen. We’re excited to have the community come out and show their support.
Today determines who qualifies to compete in the official competition on Wednesday.
In addition to freestyle kayaking competitions, music, food and fun will also be happening this weekend at the Rushsouth Festival.
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