Kayaking and canoeing are two activities you might associate with recreation and leisure, but when it comes to Olympic competition… think again.
Coach of the OKC Riversport Junior Canoe/Kayak team, Aasim Saleh explains the sport “Psychologically it’s really hard, because you’ve got to put in big kilometers, these guys are paddling 20-30 kilometers a day and it all culminates in a race that’s anywhere from 30 seconds to maybe about three and a half minutes.”
A young athlete who is familiar with the adrenaline rush of sprint kayak racing, is 14 year old Colin McMullen of Oklahoma City. McMullen is the Junior National Champion in Men’s K1 1000m and 500m races, and his accomplishments have placed him in the pipeline to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“Next year I have the opportunity to go to the Olympic hopes regatta, and that’s where all the nations go for the people who are the fastest in their countries.”
Kayaking has been around for thousands of years with a primitive purpose of food gathering and water travel, but in this era of elite competition, the sport gets technical.
Coach Saleh breaks it down, “You’ll be trying to keep your paddle buried in the water, keep a steady cadence and with the side wind like they have in Rio it’s not easy to do because you’re holding a wing and you’re trying to keep steady in the water. So you’re going to try and keep your paddle in the water and keep your boat going straight. But Colin’s going to be behind you giving you a little bit of power.”
“You’ll see the really good people don’t look like they’re working hard. I can assure you it is painful and it is hard. And a lot of times at the end of the race, they’ll zoom in on them and you can see that pain in their face, and they’re really powerful, it’s just a cool sport to watch.”
If you are interested in kayaking, canoeing, or any other water sport, check out http://riversportokc.org