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Sep. 22, 2017
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‘Fire on the Water’ expected to be biggest LLOP event since Olympics

By Jane Harrison
 
What’s being heralded as the biggest international competition held locally since the 1996 Olympics is coming to Lake Lanier Olympic Park a year from now. The International Canoe Federation Dragon Boat World Championships Sept. 12-16, 2018 is expected to bring about 2,000 athletes and coaches and possibly 10,000 spectators, according to Robyn Lynch, LLOP manager.
 
International crowds will converge on Lanier for practice five days before racing begins. The event, for which former venue manager Morgan House submitted the winning bid, will include many of the same elements of last year’s “Road to Rio” canoe/kayak Olympic qualifier at LLOP.
 
Venue officials are planning for a huge influx of international visitors who will attend the opening ceremony, congregate in an athletes’ village, participate and cheer in high level competition, and be awarded with medals.
 
Next month’s Hong Kong Atlanta Dragon Boat Festival offers a mere taste of the action a year away. Dubbed “Fire on the Water,” the world championship will be the 2018 climax of one of the world’s most colorful team water sports. Crews of 20 people, including a drummer and steerer, compete in long boats outfitted with carved or plastic dragon heads and tails. Unlike the traditional dragon boat events on Lanier, which are mainly recreational, the world championship races will display the fierce competitiveness of the fast growing sport.
 
Gainesville Hall ’96, the LLOP governing body, has initiated hospitality efforts, volunteer recruitment, and race logistics through committees organized by Stacey Dickson, Tate O’Rouke, and Doug Smith.
LLOP may have a tough act to follow with this year’s ICF Dragon Boat World Championships in Venice, Italy, often renowned as one of the world’s most beautiful cities. But Venice can’t match Lake Lanier’s fame as an Olympic event host. Dickson will get a preview of what to expect when she travels to the championship in Venice this month.

Posted online 8/30/17
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