Commentary: Oklahoma City becomes the center of paddlesports in America
Editor's note: This is an installment in an occasional series of guest columns by Mike Knopp. Knopp is the Executive Director of the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation.
USA Canoe/Kayak, the national governing body for the Olympic sports of flatwater sprint and whitewater slalom, recently announced the relocation of its headquarters to Oklahoma City. To become the center of paddlesports in America is no small feat for a city that once mowed its dry riverbed.
This relocation of USA Canoe/Kayak's headquarters will put Oklahoma City in the spotlight nationally as we launch a new era of paddlesports in America. USA Canoe/Kayak's new Paddle Now! program will focus on dramatically increasing the number of Americans who get on the water in a kayak, canoe, dragon boat or stand up paddle board. Active, healthy lifestyles begin here — with a passion for sports you can do for a lifetime.
Growing involvement in paddlesports at a grassroots level also puts more athletes into the pipeline for elite training. We will increase the number of athletes who train in these Olympic disciplines and strengthen the USA's medal chances at the international level and in Olympic competition.
USA Canoe/Kayak is moving to Oklahoma City because we are a community that embraces paddlesports and has developed one of the best racing and training venues in the world. Today, the Oklahoma River is a vibrant U.S. Olympic Training Site for sprint kayaking and rowing, and a center of community health and wellness. Oklahoma City University has launched the nation's first varsity kayak program. And within just a few short years, we will have a world-class Whitewater Kayaking and Rafting Center as part of MAPS3.
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