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Wednesday, 18 May 2016 15:58

NOC paddler to appear in summer Olympics

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out smolenWhen Team U.S.A. marches into the Olympic stadium this summer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games, Michal Smolen will become Nantahala Outdoor Center’s 23rd Olympian in the sport of Whitewater Canoe Slalom, entering in the kayak category — but it will be his first time competing in the Olympics.

After delivering a bronze medal for the U.S. in the Men’s Kayak category at last year’s Canoe Slalom World Championships in London, England, and earning critical points towards his Olympic Team selection, Smolen, 22, punched his ticket to the Olympics in Rio with a decisive victory at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Charlotte.

“The day I walk into the Olympic Stadium, dressed in my uniform, and have the U.S. flag on my back will be the proudest day of my life,” Smolen said. 

Smolen, born in Poland, first learned to paddle at NOC, where he started at age 9, keeping up the sport through the 13 years to follow and developing his skills to those of an Olympian. He is an NOC-sponsored athlete and longtime member of the Nantahala Racing Club. 

“Michal’s pursuit of excellence personifies the spirit of the entire NOC community and we are honored to support his efforts,” said Sutton Bacon, CEO for NOC. 

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