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River sports notebook: Greatest American female Kayaker is from Oklahoma

The greatest American female sprint kayaker in the history of the sport is from Oklahoma. Marcia Smoke from Oklahoma City is only one of two American women to medal in kayaking in the Olympics.
by Ed Godfrey Published: April 20, 2012

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


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 MAPS3 so there will be gates for every race distance.


Racing begins at 8 a.m. Saturday on the Oklahoma River with competition for non-Olympic World Cup events.

Paddlers will be vying for spots on the senior national team to represent the United States at the World Cup events in May and June in Europe.

Paracanoe athletes will be racing for spots on the national adaptive team to compete at the World Paracanoe Championships at Paznan, Poland, on May 16-17.

Racing concludes at noon and will be followed the Paddle Now! Youth Experience where kids in grades second through ninth can get on the water with the competitors.

Autograph sessions with the athletes will be at 11 a.m. in the Chesapeake Finish Line Tower.

by Ed Godfrey
Copy Editor, Outdoors Editor, Rodeo, River Sports Reporter
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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