Boaters hit the rapids to qualify for world championships in Wausau
WAUSAU (WAOW) -
A competitor at this weekend's Team USA trials qualified to represent Stevens Point in the International Canoe Federation's 2012 Junior Canoe Slalom World Championships this summer. But, her dreams might be cut short.
Hailey Thompson placed first in the women's canoe category, saving her a spot on Team USA. Still, she may not be able to compete in the world championships, because she got accepted into the Coast Guard Academy.
"I have spoke to several members of the board, national team coaches, former Olympians, and asked them to write letters begging for my ability to come home and compete," said Thompson.
Thompson said she would be elated if she is allowed to compete.
"I, more than anything, would love to be able to come and compete my last year as a junior in worlds on my home course," said Thompson.
For athletes like Thompson, paddling these rapids is the experience of a lifetime, and she is not the only one who feels that way.
"It's really nice training with people from all around the world. It's just the best of the best boaters," said Cody Achatz of Wausau.
Officials said 14-year-old Achatz has been competing since he was eight.
"I'm just doing the best I can like the others, and we're all just here to have a good time and try to get on the team," said Achatz.
Organizers agree. They said fierce competition can help make these boaters better athletes.
"If you can compete head to head here with the best you're gaining a big advantage later on," said Thomas Vollstedt, an organizer of the championships.
This summer 15 people will compete on Team USA. Hailey Thompson hopes the Coast Guard Academy will allow her to be one of them.
"I would enjoy being able to come back for one last world series race," said Thompson.
Organizers say 35 countries will be represented at the world championships in July. Those will take place in Wausau at Whitewater Park. For more information about the competition head to http://www.2012wausau.com/.