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OKC paddlers are making a name for themselves

OKC RIVERSPORT will be sending five athletes this month to the Olympic Hopes Regatta in the Czech Republic, the top world event for high school paddlers.

It is the most participants that OKC RIVERSPORT has ever qualified to Olympic Hopes Regatta, and the five Oklahomans will be part of a 30-member U.S. team that will be competing against the best paddlers in the world.

“Every one of them is in at least three events (in the Olympic Hopes Regatta),” said Aasim Saleh, director of paddle sports and head coach for the OKC RIVERSPORT canoe/kayak team.

“These group of kids are faster than any group of Oklahoma City kids we've ever had, which is what you would expect, because each year the program gets better, and we are also a deeper program.”

In canoe/kayak, athletes race in singles, pairs and four-person boats in 200-, 500- and 1,000-meter races. The Olympic Hopes Regatta is open to 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds and is essentially the world championship for the young athletes.

This year's event will be Sept. 15-17 in Racice, Czech Republic. At last year's regatta in Hungary, more than 1,000 athletes from 32 countries competed.

Five OKC RIVERSPORT athletes were selected for the U.S. team based on their performances at nationals in Florida last month.

The high school athletes are Augustus Cook, 15, of Jones; Colin McMullen, 15, of Edmond North; Nicole Anderson, 15, of Edmond Memorial; Brice Anderson, 16, of Edmond Memorial; and Camden Sexton, 15, of Carl Albert.

Saleh said the five are also the youngest group of OKC RIVERSPORT paddlers who have ever qualified to the Olympic Hopes Regatta.

“It pretty much means OKC will have a bigger group in the future,” he said. “Our program is relatively new in the big picture of things. My club back home in Seattle has been around 30 years. They have a really long legacy.

“We started developing kids in canoe and kayak (in Oklahoma City) five or six years ago, so what is really special for us is that a lot of our best athletes weren't even eligible to go last year because they were too young.”

OKC RIVERSPORT paddlers are now among the best in the country, with several winning national titles at the Florida event. The next step is to go toe-to-toe with the best in the world.

At the Olympic Hopes Regatta, the OKC RIVERSPORT athletes will be racing against future Olympians, which they also aspire to be.

“Realistically, the kids in the top nine at this event, we consider that exceptionally well,” Saleh said.

“All of our kids in Oklahoma City, their goal is to make a final, which puts them in the top nine, and what that really means developmentally is they are on that level where they could be extremely good when they become college-age athletes.”

Related Photos
<p>Nicole Anderson, 15, of Edmond Memorial High School, is one of five OKC RIVERSPORT athletes who will be racing in the Olympic Hopes Regatta Sept. 15-17 in the Czech Republic. [PHOTO PROVIDED]</p>

Nicole Anderson, 15, of Edmond Memorial High School, is one of five OKC RIVERSPORT athletes who will be racing in the Olympic Hopes Regatta Sept. 15-17 in the Czech Republic. [PHOTO PROVIDED]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f868553c07f589e57e6db6373d63ff8f.jpg" alt="Photo - Nicole Anderson, 15, of Edmond Memorial High School, is one of five OKC RIVERSPORT athletes who will be racing in the Olympic Hopes Regatta Sept. 15-17 in the Czech Republic. [PHOTO PROVIDED] " title=" Nicole Anderson, 15, of Edmond Memorial High School, is one of five OKC RIVERSPORT athletes who will be racing in the Olympic Hopes Regatta Sept. 15-17 in the Czech Republic. [PHOTO PROVIDED] "><figcaption> Nicole Anderson, 15, of Edmond Memorial High School, is one of five OKC RIVERSPORT athletes who will be racing in the Olympic Hopes Regatta Sept. 15-17 in the Czech Republic. [PHOTO PROVIDED] </figcaption></figure>
Ed Godfrey

Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›

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