OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – USA Olympic hopefuls spent their Thanksgiving holiday training right here in Oklahoma City.
The Canoe and Kayak Slalom teams used the Riversport Adventures whitewater course to train this week.
They’ve had a rough road to Tokyo so far.
“It’s been kind of a roller coaster,” said 27-year-old Michal Smolen from North Carolina.
Executive Director of Riversport Adventures, Mike Knopp says the whitewater course is world class and something Oklahomans should be proud of.
“It is really unique that in Oklahoma City, we have one of the finest whitewater venues in the world,” said Knopp.
This makes it the perfect destination for the more than 30 athletes to prepare for next year’s Olympics.
The athletes say they never stop working, even spending Thanksgiving training.
“It takes a lot of years to figure out how to get down the course without flipping and to get down as fast as you can,” said Smolen.
Smolen and 19-year-old Joshua Joseph, are among the top performers on the team.
“Feels pretty awesome,” said Joseph.
They are the top picks to go to Tokyo in 2021, however, they are competing against each other because only one spot exists.
“We’re all good friends and we’re all training for the same goal, so I think it’s safe to say that the person who doesn’t make it is still happy for the person who does make it,” said Smolen.
“I think it will be really difficult. I think there’s definitely a chance there but I’m just gonna train and hope for the best,” said Joseph.
The athletes will move on to Australia to train next as Oklahoma continues to cheer them on.
“They train here. They get ready for the Olympics right here in Oklahoma City. It’s something we can all look forward to when we watch Tokyo Olympics and know that these athletes were a part of our venue,” said Knopp.
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