As many as 800 athletes from 65 participating countries will converge on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia, in September, for the 2003 Sprint Canoe/Kayak World Championships.

The championships, the first ever held in the United States, will be the biggest event to come to Lake Lanier since the 1996 Olympics. In addition to the participating athletes, organizers are expecting 400 officials, coaches, team leaders and other support personnel, 100 accredited press, 300 to 350 volunteers and organizers, and up to 4,000 spectators.

The event is being organized and hosted by the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club,, a Community Olympic Development Program.

The ICF Senior World Championships are held every year except for the Olympic years. The 2003 Senior World Championships, to be held September 10-14, will be the qualification event for the boats that will compete in the 2004 Olympics, which will be held in Athens, Greece. The World Championship prior to an Olympic year has almost become larger than the Olympics themselves, with the 1996 IOC ruling that limits the number of athletes that can compete in the Olympic Games. Athletes will be coming to the 2003 World Championships as their first opportunity to qualify for entry into the 2004 Olympics.

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