A Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team member won a bronze medal at the Olympic Hopes Regatta last weekend in Szeged, Hungary. Gig Harbor’s Olivia Crocker, paired with Cascade Canoe and Kayak Racing Team’s Andreea Ghizila, edged out a Canadian duo to win the bronze medal in the C2 Womens 500-meter event.
Crocker, Ghizila, and the other members of the USA Junior Canoe/Kayak Team competed for three days against 670 athletes from 31 countries at the top international competition for sprint canoe and kayak paddlers ages 15 to 17.
The United States fielded its largest-ever Olympic Hopes team (33) and posted impressive results, reaching the finals in 12 events. Thirteen Olympic Hopes athletes from Gig Harbor made up 40 percent of the team, and Gig Harbor head coach Holm Schmidt also traveled to Hungary as a Team USA coach. In addition to Crocker, Gig Harbor athletes Allyson Chiou, Anna Martinson, Jonathan Grady and Ryan Grady also made it to finals in their events.
Although sprint canoe/kayak is a relatively small sport in the United States, international levels of competition are intense, with Hungary, Germany, and Canada being perennial powerhouses. In order to prepare for international competition, the Gig Harbor Team USA Olympic Hopes athletes have trained six days a week for over a year.
Other GHCKRT Olympic Hopes athletes who competed in Hungary were Justin Barker, 16; Jonathan Barnato, 16; Jack Capper, 16; Irissa Danke, 16; Kyle Field, 16; Trisha Martinson, 15; Jordan Wickline, 17, and Catherine Wilborn, 16.
The Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team is hoping to have a permanent home soon in Ancich Park in Gig Harbor.
The city is moving forward with plans for the site in 2017-18. GHCKRT recently won its fifth straight national title in Oklahoma City. Ryan Grady was named Team USA captain for the Olympic Hopes Regatta following his strong performance at nationals.