I.C.F. Kayak World Cup kicking off preliminaries in Columbus

Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 4:17 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - It’s here! More than 100 athletes representing over a dozen countries are in the Fountain City this week for the International Canoe Federation Competition.

Monday, kicking off the preliminaries to find out who qualifies for the big race on Wednesday.

The best freestyle paddlers in the world are here in the Chattahoochee Valley to compete in the 2022 World Cups and the 2023 World Championships.

Some athletes, training for decades, explained just what it takes to get to this height in the kayaking career. Gav Barker from Great Britain arrive in the Fountain City two weeks ago to prepare for the big race: “We’ve been training on ‘Ambush’ here, three days training here. Four days on ‘good wave’ in the city. The last week we’ve just been doing more of that.”

Eric Jackson of Rock Island, Tennessee is no rookie to the sport: “I’ve been kayaking quite awhile. I first made the U.S. team in 1989... and I’ve been on the U.S. team ever since, so how ever many years that is... like 30 years.”

For the Jackson’s... it’s a family affair.

“My son is competing. My daughter and son-in-law are also competing. My son-in-law is paddling for Canada, but my daughter and son are both Americans. My son is in first or second place right now, and my son-in-law is currently winning. I’m somewhere in the middle... not exactly sure.”

Fabian Lenz of Germany said the water here is different, so he has been practicing for days for a one up. He explained the hospitality in the Fountain City has been excellent.

“It’s been interesting,” Lenz told News Leader 9′s Ashlee Williams. “A really nice city with nice stores. The restaurants are nice here. The eating style is different than Germany, but very interesting. I like the weather...”

The competition... taking months to prepare for and dozens of hands to make it all happen.

“We have a host committee of about 40 people who have volunteered a lot of their time and energy to get this event planning going,” Tracey Greene with Uptown Columbus Inc. told us. “Whitewater Express, the City of Columbus and the City of Phenix City... there’s so many organizations that have helped make this event happen. We’re excited for the community to come out and show their support.”

Today determines who qualifies to compete in the official competition Wednesday.

In addition to the freestyle kayaking competitions, music, food, and fun also happening this upcoming weekend at the Rushsouth festival.