Growing up in Seattle, Nevin Harrison looked up to athletes like Gabby Douglas and Allyson Felix rather than canoeists and kayakers because there are so few elite American competitors in these sports.

The 19-year-old has become a role model for aspiring American canoeists after she won the women’s canoe single 200m sprint on Thursday, the first Olympic competition day for the flat-water race.

U.S. Teenager Nevin Harrison Wins First Olympic Womens Canoe 200M
Even though canoeing has been a part of the Olympics since 1936, no American had medaled in the sport since Rebecca Giddens earned silver in the women’s slalom K1 in 2004. A medal in a canoe or kayak sprint event hadn’t been won by the country since 1992.

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Undeniable Superstar on a Worldwide Scale After Qualifying

While the skill pool for canoe and kayak sprinting in the United States is relatively small, Harrison has emerged as an undeniable superstar on a worldwide scale after qualifying as the lone American athlete to compete in Tokyo.

There was no one to really follow in my footsteps, so this journey has been challenging. However, Harrison expressed hope that he could serve as that figure for the youth of the United States. Even though she was the defending champion and heavy favourite going into the final, she still appeared shocked by her triumph.

When I crossed the finish line and saw that I had come in first, I couldn’t believe it. It’s such a wild, grandiose ambition, and it never seems like it’s truly achievable. “It’s just like every childhood fantasy I had,” she exclaimed.

The C1 200m world record holder from Canada, Laurence Vincent-Lapointe, was expected to challenge Harrison in their race under Tokyo Gate Bridge through a canal created between two manmade islands. Harrison won in 45.932 seconds, 0.854 ahead of her 29-year-old competitor, but the race was more of a procession than a combat. Ukrainian athlete Liudmyla Luzan placed third.

Given that the former world champion didn’t look like she’d be able to compete in Tokyo, Vincent-Lapointe was overjoyed with her medal. To paraphrase, “It’s both comforting and thrilling to have this problem solved. “After everything I’ve been through, it’s absolutely crazy,” she exclaimed.

Her 2019 doping nightmare all began with a kiss. She was found to have illegally low levels of the muscle-building medication Ligandrol in her system.

Though she said she was innocent, the Quebec native was suspended for six months before being reinstated by a tribunal, which had been convinced by a sample of her ex-hair boyfriend’s that she was not involved. She convinced the authorities that she had been contaminated by the transmission of bodily fluids from a third person.

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Last Words

The American paddling prodigy, then 17 years old, won the 2019 world championships while she was suspended. After a diagnosis of hip dysplasia derailed Harrison’s hopes of competing in track and field, she only started canoeing five years ago.

Not surprisingly, she doesn’t regret her decision to specialise in aquatic sprinting. She remarked, “This is so much better for me, the individuals are unique, the community is great.” As much as I enjoy being indoors, nothing beats being on the lake. That’s why it works perfectly.