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Oklahoma River played host to Olympic trials

The 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials for Flatwater Sprint was held on the river. Both athletes and technological advancements excelled — new underwater starting gates were installed.

FROM STAFF REPORTS Modified: April 29, 2012 at 1:14 am •  Published: April 29, 2012
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/articleid/3668806/1/pictures/1701621">Photo - Carrie Johnson competes in the women’s kayak 500-meter final during the USA Canoe/Kayak U.S. Olympic Team Trials on the Oklahoma River in Oklahoma City. Photos by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman archives
Carrie Johnson competes in the women’s kayak 500-meter final during the USA Canoe/Kayak U.S. Olympic Team Trials on the Oklahoma River in Oklahoma City. Photos by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman archives
Olympic Trial is an example for other landlocked Oklahomans who might have Olympic aspirations in paddling, said Shaun Caven, former British National coach and director of Canoe/Kayak at the OKC High Performance Center.

Puckett started at age 12 in the OKC RIVERSPORT in the sprint canoe/kayak youth program with no previous experience and became a two-time junior national champion.

“It proves if you build a facility and employ a couple of coaches who half know what they are doing, there is no reason you can’t be champions,” Caven said.

About 150 high school age and younger athletes are competing in kayaking through the OKC RIVERSPORT SandRidge Youth League.

Underwater starting gates installed

The U.S. Olympic Trial was the debut of a pneumatic starting gate system for racing on the Oklahoma River.

It is the same system that will be used in the Olympic Games in London.

The submerged gates ensure every paddler starts the race at the same time and is lined up equally at the starting line, similar to a horse race.

The new gates were bought by Devon Energy and Chesapeake Energy and took six weeks to arrive to Oklahoma.

They were installed by a scuba diver from Hungary on Thursday.

They are used at every Olympic, World Cup and world championship paddling and rowing event.

Two more permanent pneumatic starting gates will be installed on the Oklahoma River as part of MAPS 3 so there will be gates for every race distance.

CONTRIBUTING: Ed Godfrey, staff writer


Read the rest of the story on Oklahoman.com
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