Lanier Canoe & Kayak Club athletes part of two podium finishes during Day 3 of Pan American Games at Lake Lanier Olympic Park
Other Times stories on Pan American Championships:
Andreanne Langlois came to Lake Lanier last month seeking a spot on the Canadian Canoe Kayak National Team. She’s returning to Quebec as a qualifier for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
The 23-year-old pulled away from the rest of the pack in the final half of the race, winning with ease in the Senior Women’s one-person kayak (K1) 200-meter race with a time of 42.98 seconds — more than two seconds faster than her nearest competitor early in the third day of the Pan American Games on Saturday at the Lake Lanier Olympic Park.
Her win was one of four in races with spots on the line to the Summer Games.
“I still don’t think I realize yet what I’ve accomplished,” said Langlois, who speaks English with a thick French accent. “All my hard work has paid off.”
Also earning spots to the Olympics on Saturday were teams consisting of athletes from Cuba, Argentina and Brazil.
The most vocal of the celebrations came from the Brazilians. In the Senior Men’s K2 200, the Brazilian duo of Edson Isaias Freitas de Silva and Gilvan Bittencourt Ribeiro won with a final push and time of 34.45, just .07 seconds ahead of the runner-up team from Canada.
As soon as the pair of Brazialians crossed the finish line, an automatic celebration erupted with its rather large conglomerate of athletes, coaches and fans at Lake Lanier.
For Cuba, Arnold Rodriguez Castro, 21, won the Senior Men’s C1 200 race to earn his first Olympic berth. His father participated in rowing for Cuba in the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona.
“This is just very important to me to have this opportunity to represent Cuba in the Summer Olympics,” said Rodriguez Castro, who spoke through a translator.
The first Olympic-qualifying race of the day went to Argentina’s Omar de Andres in the Senior Men’s K1 200 with a first-place time of 37.47.
At the Pan Am Games, Langlois was the fourth Canadian woman to solidify an Olympic spot.
Her reaction immediately after winning showed how it was a life-changing event. After exiting her boat on the platform, she began to jump up and down ecstatically with both hands clenched by her side. As soon as her best friend and Canadian teammate Marc-Alexandre Gagnon arrived to celebrate by the water, she jumped up and wrapped herself around his upper body as all of the Canadians cheered.
Once Langlois took to the podium to be honored for her victory, she began to tear up with a smile from ear to ear as the Canadian National Anthem was played and flag raised along with those of the second and third place finishers.
“I’m feeling so many emotions right now,” said Langlois, who has been paddling since age 8, after her victory.
The biggest weather factor she had to take into consideration was a less-than-desirable head wind. Langlois said on this day that didn’t even impact her championship effort.