Columbus and Phenix City to Host 2022 World Cup Kayaking Events and the 2023 World Championship

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 9:24 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Some of the world’s best kayakers from over 30 countries are coming to Columbus.

They’ll be training for 2022 World Cup Kayaking Events and the 2023 World Championship.

“I’m really excited to compete, it has always been a dream of mine to compete in worlds...” Cat Hardman, a professional kayaker said.

Hardman moved from Huntsville, Alabama to attend school at Columbus State University just so she can have access to the Fountain City’s notorious whitewater rapids - now that it’s been announced she’s on cloud nine.

“Now that it is going to be held in my hometown, I get to train as much as I would like,” she said.

“I don’t know if we have had something this exciting since having the Olympics here back in 1996,” Dan Gilbert, the CEO of Whitewater Express said.

For the people at Whitewater Express who spend a majority of their days on the rapids, they expect a huge boom in business knowing hundreds of competitors from all over the world will soon start training.

“The Japanese team and the Australian team have already reached out to us and said they would like to start training next spring,” he said.

But more than just an increase in tourism revenue... this will bring long-lasting effects to Columbus as a whole.

“Bringing family, bringing friends, staying for long periods of time... “ Mayor Skip Henderson of Columbus said. “The economic impact is going to be sizeable....”

“Afterwards, we’ll continue on the trajectory with our marketing and advertising letting people know that this was the home for these competitions and people can come and see it and enjoy it for themselves,” Ed Wolverton, President of Uptown Columbus Inc. said.

The Whitewater Rapids in the region were chosen for several reasons, one being that there is a waveshaper that was installed in 2013 that can make the rapids larger or smaller, and another reason is having ease of access for athletes to get into the water

This will be the ninth World Championship event and the first in the United States since 2013. Columbus, who was picked from hundreds of other destinations from across the world, will be following the competition planned next year in Nottingham, Great Britain.

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