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Area paddlers seek Olympic berths through this weekend's Pan American Championships
Pan Am Games begin Thursday, will continue through Sunday at Gainesville's Lake Lanier Olympic Park
Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club's Chris Miller wins the Senior Men K1 1000m Heat 1 race last month during the 2016 USACK Sprint National Team Trials at the Lake Lanier Olympic Park.

2016 Pan American Championships at Lake Lanier Olympic Park
Olympic qualifier races with Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club and Team USA athletes

Admission is free, but donations are accepted


11:30 a.m. – Senior Men C2 1000M final, Ian Ross and Gavin Ross


9 a.m. – Senior Men K1 1000M final, Chris Miller
9:10 a.m. – Senior Men C 1 1000M final, Ian Ross
11:15 a.m. – Senior Men K2 1000M final, Chris Miller and Stanton Collins
11:50 a.m. – Senior Women K2 500M final, Farran Smith and Sammie Barlow


9:30 a.m. – Senior Men K1 200M final, Tim Hornsby
9:40 a.m. – Senior Men C1 200M final, Ben Hefner
9:50 a.m. – Senior Women K1 200M final, Emily Wright
11:40 a.m. – Senior Men K2 200M final, Chris Miller and Stanton Collins

Claudiu Ciur believes that the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club has its best chance in recent memory to place multiple local athletes in the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics with a strong performance this weekend at the Pan American Championships. 

The championships, which will be held today through Sunday at Lake Lanier Olympic Park, feature several of LCKC’s best rowers and paddlers as they attempt to convert strong performances at last month’s U.S. Team Trials into a berth in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this August.

For a full schedule of the weekend's activities, click here. To visit the event's official site for more information, click here.

Ten different LCKC and Team USA athletes are competing in nine qualifying races throughout the weekend. A win in those races guarantees that the athlete will make it to Rio, while a high finish could still keep them in contention, depending on who they beat in the final.

“In terms of Gainesville and the LCKC, it can’t be better than this,” said Ciur.

Three local athletes, including Chris Miller, Stanton Collins and Ian Ross all captured wins at last month’s national team trials, which booked their spots in this week’s Pan Am Games.

Ciur said LCKC’s recent success can be tracked back to an “eight-year plan” that has become reality. Ciur joined LCKC in 2008, and is now the head coach of the club.

With a supportive local community behind them, Ciur said he thinks his athletes will hold momentum heading into the weekend’s schedule.

“They’re hungry,” said Ciur of his team. “I think they want this more than anybody else in the field. It’s a very good environment in the team. Everybody’s really positive. It can all come down to the day, the time, the moment, but I think we’re ready.”

Tim Hornsby is LCKC’s lone Olympian so far, having qualified for the Canoe Sprint (K1) 200M for the 2012 London Olympics. He finished sixth in the K1 200M event in last year’s Pan Am Games.

Ciur’s athletes are fairly young, ranging from 16 to 35. The coach believes LCKC can place from “four to six” of its athletes in the Rio Games.

Ciur estimates that there will be nearly 200 athletes representing more than 13 countries throughout North and South America.

Meanwhile, LCKC will field nine competitors in a series of junior events to be held from today through Sunday.

“We get a lot of support,” said Ciur. “The kids have been training for years here, looking forward to try and qualify for the Olympic Games. It’s a big deal for Gainesville.”

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