Top canoe/kayak stories to watch in Rio - WSMV News 4

Top canoe/kayak stories to watch in Rio

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The 2016 Rio Games are right around the corner and the waters of Whitewater Stadium and Lagao Rodrigo de Freitas will host the Olympic canoe/kayak competitions. Here are the top five stories that will take place on that lake from Aug. 7 - 20. 

Third time’s a charm

Ashley Nee patiently awaited the decision by the International Canoe Federation (ICF) to award her an athlete quota spot after she won the 2016 Canoe/Kayak Olympic Slalom Team Trials in the women’s kayak single (K1).

Nee got the call and the good news, she will represent Team USA in her first Olympic appearance after two previously failed attempts: In 2008, a promising path to the Beijing Games was cut short when Nee couldn’t recover in time from a shoulder injury. Before the 2012 London Games, Caroline Queen and Nee were tied in points after the Olympic Trials. However, a tie breaker prevented Nee from advancing to London. 

Dual citizen – one flag

Polish-born Smolen overcame his fear of the water, learned to paddle, trained and excelled in competitive kayaking – all in the United States. His 2012 Olympic dreams as a representative of Team USA came to a close after a hard-fought battle to acquire expedited U.S. citizenship fell short.

His last opportunity for a chance to compete at the London Games was to compete under Poland’s flag but he decided it wasn’t worth it. Eventually, Smolen became an American citizen six months after the 2012 London Olympics ended. All of that is in the past, now, Smolen will be competing for gold in the men’s K1 slalom in Rio – as an American.

Winning gold in London – watching from home in Rio

Great Britain’s Ed McKeever won gold in the men’s K1 200-meter sprint at the London Games.

However, after multiple attempts, McKeever failed to qualify for the Rio Games.

The bronze medalist in the event, Mark de Jonge, heads to Rio as the K1 200m favorite. The Canadian engineer – who almost stepped away from the sport – failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Games but decided to return once the K1 200m event was added to the London Games lineup. De Jonge is the current K1 200m world record holder.

Kiwi speed racer

Not only did New Zealand’s Lisa Carrington win gold in the women’s K1 200m at the London Games, but she is also a four-time world champion.

At the Rio Games, Carrington is the favorite in the K1 200m and perhaps the favorite in the women’s K1 500m – which she won at the 2015 World Championships.

Sprint out of water

There have been multiple reports and water quality investigations exhibited by the Associated Press regarding the poor water quality in Rio de Janeiro and viruses found in Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas – Rio’s canoe sprint venues.

However, it’s not just the water that is getting the canoe/kayak sprint community’s attention – it’s also doping.

Romania and Belarus were top offenders and were disqualified for the Rio Games. Their doping violations made numerous open quota spots available, which were reallocated by the ICF.

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