Road to Tokyo- The Olympic Dream

Hi everyone! My name is Ann Armstrong; I’m 23 years old, a sailor in the US  Navy and a member of the US National Team in the sport of Sprint Canoe racing. After winning 1 of the 2 200m sprints, with less than 9 months of paddling, I was selected for the U-23 and Senior National Teams. Based on my racing results, I was nominated for the Women’s Canoe camp in the Czech Republic held by the International Canoe Federation, which was for up and coming paddlers who had been identified as having potential to excel in 2020. In my first full season, I won 5 National Championships, made the C2 (two person) final C2 200m at the U23 World Championships, and the semi-finals at Senior World Championships. After receiving a taste of elite competition, I have no intentions of stopping. Still, while this had been an absolutely thrilling journey, it isn’t one I expected to be on.

When I was a little girl, I didn’t know I’d get to achieve these things. I didn’t know that my ultimate dream would be to represent the U.S. in the Olympic Games–let alone in Sprint Canoe.

I grew up playing sports, riding horses, and enjoying white water paddling. My love of the water and my country eventually led me to joining the Navy, and two years ago I was stationed in Washington D.C. where I joined Washington Canoe Club(WCC). The wonderful people at WCC introduced me to the sport of sprint canoe, a long-held tradition at the club, and I had to give it a try… to say it was a challenge would be an understatement! At 13-15 inches wide and 17 feet long, sprint canoes are nothing like the canoes I grew up paddling through white water. It took me months of hard work to master the balance required to keep the boat upright, and I’m still working every day at becoming faster–but I wouldn’t change a thing about it. The difficulty of the sport is what makes succeeding so exhilarating.

27985628_1519538937.3353_funddescription.jpgPhoto Credit Gabriel Ghizila 

I fell in love with the right time, it seems, because women will race sprint canoe for the very first time at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. I want nothing more than to be able to represent the U.S. in Tokyo, and raise our country’s awareness of this amazing sport. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by so many great paddlers and mentors who have put endless work and faith into me, and am endlessly grateful to the my chain of command in the Navy for supporting my training and racing opportunities, but unfortunately, Sprint Paddling is not a cheap sport.

While the American Canoe Association does a great job of providing support for the athletes in many important ways like coaching and arranging camps, there is almost no direct financial support for travel, lodging, boat rental or entry fees. This is a huge handicap for U.S. paddlers, as training and racing for paddling national team members is fully funded for many other counties.

The travel and very basic living expenses for the upcoming season alone will be more than $10,000. This includes 2 World Cups in Hungary, and Germany, training camps, the World Championships in Portugal, and the Pan American Championships in Canada. Racing experince is really important to gain as a sprint paddler, and i hope to learn more and improve ever day but unfortunately, that is far out of my means.

Any help you might give is greatly appreciated. If you aren’t able to, please root me on in this journey. And if you would, please pass it along to others! It takes a whole community of support to be successful!

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    • $5 
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Ann Armstrong 
Washington D.C., DC
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