Wednesday, August 8, 2012

An OPC Olympian!

In 1972, a seed was planted  in a young boy living in Maryland. Watching the Winter Olympic games, he vowed that one day he would  become an Olympian himself. Young Elliot Weintrob never lost sight of that goal, and after a lot of hard work, the dream was realized when he walked into the Opening Ceremony in Barcelona in 1992.

Elliot was first introduced to kayaking when he was an eight year old camper at Valley Mill Day Camp. While all of his friends amused themselves with other sports, all Elliot wanted to do was stay in the boat. His passion for kayaking was immediate, and it was obvious to all around him that he had a talent.

Between the ages of eight and fifteen, Elliot was immersed in white water kayaking and racing. He trained hard and rose to the top of the youth ranks. Traveling the country to compete, he was winning national competitions when he decided to take a break at the age of fifteen. During his hiatus from the sport, he concentrated his efforts on high school football and traditional teenage activities which included wooing girls and socializing.

As his senior year came to a close, Elliot was pulled again by his love of the kayak. Upon graduation he moved to California to teach kayaking. He soon contacted his former coach and the pair began to aggressively train for his comeback. 

In 1984 he was named to the National Development Team and earned a position on the National Team in 1986. In 1988 an announcement was made that changed the course of Elliot’s life: White Water Kayaking was going to return to the Olympic roster for 1992.

Upon hearing the announcement he decided to dedicate the next four years of his life to realizing his Olympic dream. The story goes that Elliot informed his parents of his decision in a matter-of-fact manner by walking into Harry’s office and saying, “I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to be training for the next four years to go to the Olympics.” Without missing a beat, Harry simply looked up from the ledger and said, “You’d better make it then.”

Elliot devoted the next four years of his life to the sport of white water slalom (kayaking) and moved to North Carolina to train with other aspiring Olympians. As he recalls, he trained hard and had the time of his life.

Despite setbacks, including his partner getting injured the month before the Olympic trials, Elliot and his partner won the first Olympic trial. The dream of being in the Olympics was realized, and Elliot prepared for an amazing two weeks in Barcelona.

Speaking of the Olympic race today, Elliot admits that his team “didn’t race as well as we could have.” He did not win a medal, but he did have an incredible experience. He walked away from Barcelona with the pride of being an Olympian and memories that he will always cherish.


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