The Pan-American Championship hosted in Gainesville, Georgia, May 19-22, provided a now-or-never moment for US canoe and kayak sprint athletes seeking to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. As the wake at Lake Lanier settled, one American, Maggie Hogan, finished with a silver medal in the women’s K-1 500 meter, and more importantly a place on the starting line in this summer’s Olympic Games.
“Qualifying for the Olympic Games is a dream come true,” says Hogan, who will be making her first Olympic appearance. “The May 20th race was a straight final, so there was no room for error. To add to the pressure, the spot given to the winning Pan-American athlete was the last available spot for the K1 500 in the world. I am so relieved that the process was a success.”
Hogan finished second only to Canadian, Lisa Bissonnette, in the event. Canada, having already secured an Olympic berth in the women’s K1 500 meter, was not eligible to earn an athlete quota in this boat class during the continental qualifier, allowing it instead to be captured by Hogan, a 14-time US national champion. Her next step in preparing for Rio will be to catch up with the international race scene — taking part in the third ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup in Montemor, Portugal, June 3-5.
Video by David Thackham of The Times in Gainesville, Ga.
For the remainder of the US sprint athletes the door to the 2016 Olympics has all but completely shut. The only remaining chance to race in this summer’s games would be to receive a “wildcard” spot or re-allocation of quota from the ICF. This is a scenario USACK Director of Communications, Aaron Mann, says, “Our coaches feel strongly is a possibility in one and maybe even two boat classes.” Which nations will receive these spots is nearly impossible to predict, and ultimately is the decision of the ICF. Selections will be determined by the beginning of July.
Athletes from the US national team will be present at both of the remaining ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup races:
May 27-29,2016 ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup 2, Racice, Czech Republic
June 3-5, 2016 ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup 3, Montemor, Portugal
Stay tuned to C&K for ongoing coverage of 2016 Road to Rio
More from C&K: