Teenager Nevin Harrison overcame her ‘terror’ of competing in the Olympics to strike gold in the women’s 200m single canoe race.
The 19-year-old from Seattle, WA, had declared her ambition to win gold, but revealed she had been engulfed with fear of competing on sports biggest stage.
Teenager Nevin Harrison overcame her ‘terror’ of competing in the Olympics to strike gold in the women’s 200m single canoe race
Gold medalist Nevin Harrison of the United States celebrates on the podium after her win
The new Olympic champion only took up the sport five years ago and after successes in the World Championships, the expectations of gold in Tokyo grew.
She said: ‘Olympic gold in 2021 has always been my dream, and it is crazy that it is within reach, it’s terrifying.
‘The pressure is scary, but it also holds me to a higher standard. I know the world is watching so I have to make sure to always put my best foot forward.
(From R) Bronze medalist Ukraine’s Luidmyla Luzan, gold medalist USA’s Nevin Harrison and silver medalist Canada’s Laurence Vincent-Lapointe pose on the podium following the women’s canoe single 200m final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo on August 5
The 19-year-old from Seattle, WA, had declared her ambition to win gold, but revealed she had been engulfed with fear of competing on sports biggest stage
Tonight she put those worries behind her to win the gold medal, beating Canada’s Laurence Vincent-Lapointe (silver) and bronze medalist Liudmyla Luzan of Ukraine
‘The Olympic Games mean everything to me. I’ve dedicated my whole life for this dream.’
Nevin took up paddling eight years ago having originally chosen running, until she was diagnosed with hip dysplasia.
The pain forced her to stop running and take up paddling, first in a kayak then in a canoe.
‘Most people start with kayaking and people might get mad at me, but I got in the kayak, and I thought, ‘This is boring. I want to do something harder’.
‘So when I was 12 and I was falling every single time in the canoe, I liked the challenge.’
Nevin took up paddling eight years ago having originally chosen running, until she was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. She is pictured with her family
Her role models usually came from Team USA Olympic athletes like Allyson Felix, Gabby Douglas, and Jamaica’s sprint king Usain Bolt. ‘I always dreamed of being as dominant as they were’ she added
‘Growing up I didn’t have any role models in the canoe/kayak world because I didn’t really know anyone.
‘The canoe is such a small sport in the US so it was really just fun until a few years ago.’
Her role models usually came from Team USA Olympic athletes like Allyson Felix, Gabby Douglas, and Jamaica’s sprint king Usain Bolt.
‘I always dreamed of being as dominant as they were’ she added.
Nevin said later: ‘I am so excited, really proud of what I did. It’s exciting to be part of history. ‘I’m definitely still in a dream. This is crazy… I’m so grateful for my whole support system: my friends, my family, my coach. This is wild.
‘I’m so stoked. It’s the perfect thing I could have asked for, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.’
She paid tribute to her two medal-winning opponents who she described as ‘ awesome’ and added: ‘What a wonderful group of girls, amazing girls on that podium with me. I’m really lucky.
‘ We gave each other a hug and said, ‘We’re making history’. Because we are, this is our first year and I’m so excited to be gold medallist for the first year, that’s crazy.’
She led almost from the off and completed the race in 45.932 seconds, nearly a second ahead of silver medallist Vincent-Lapointe.
‘I am excited about my race plan and I am really happy with it.
‘I think I knew it was going to be the hardest race of my life, because it’s the Olympics and that is what it is all about.’
She said she hoped the gold medal would bring others into the sport back in America.
‘I hope it helps grow the sport and we have an amazing community in the US. It is a small one …I really hope puts it on the map.
‘I think the US is stacked with amazing athletes. It’s a cool sport and competitive, it would be awesome to have more girls, and boys.’
She added: ‘I am only 19, I hope I have a long road ahead of me in this sport. I hope I am just the beginning of my road.
‘The pandemic was a year of really, really intensive training.’