July 16, 2018

Asian-Atlantans Make a Splash in Dragon Boat Races

LAKE LANIER, GEORGIA—MAY 2018—Georgia’s Lake Lanier Olympic Park (LLOP) will host the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Dragon Boat World Championships September 13-16. 1,500 athletes from over 25 countries—including the United States, Hungary, China, Japan, and Italy—will gather to compete in traditional canoes, adorned with dragon’s heads and tails, while also celebrating the cultural heritage of this deeply symbolic Asian heritage event.


The competition and subsequent festival make up the largest Asian-cultural event in the Metro Atlanta area, which is significant because of the growing Asian demographics. The city’s metro population increased by 24% between 2000 and 2010, but the Asian-American population increased by 88%. With such an influx of local Asian-Americans, the Dragon Boat World Championship is stirring up major excitement throughout North Georgia. Although Dragon Boats originate from China, the championships and three-day festival showcase various Asian ethnic groups in the greater Atlanta.


Gainesville native, Jim O’Dell, chairman of and junior coach for Team USA, says this exciting event features the best of Asian culture, offering fun for all. Visitors can indulge in cuisines from different Asian countries, shop for cultural wares and watch Chinese dances and other cultural presentations throughout LLOP. The festivities set the stage for the fierce competition on the longest stretch of flat waterway in the United States.


“With its’ over 2,000-year-old roots in Chinese lore, Dragon Boat racing is now a global phenomenon, with an estimated 72.5 million people paddling these crafts around the world. The sport is extremely popular in the US, Canada, Europe and, of course, throughout the Asian nations,” says O’Dell.


Team USA will have multiple teams participating and this competition will be the largest world gathering of athletes in the area since the Centennial Olympic Games in 1996. Around 10,000 spectators are expected and the estimated economic impact is predicted to be five million dollars.



Available Interviews:
The following people are available to speak to journalists about the significance of the World Dragon Boat Championships to the local Asian population:

Li Wong:

Henry Yu:

Kim Liemkeo:

Enoy Chanlyvong:

Bora Lam:

Charlene Fang:

Jim O’Dell, Canoe/Kayak/Dragon Boat Coach and Team Building Facilitator

Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club; 2017 Sprint National Champions

Regional and Junior National Coach

Dragon Boat USA; 2014 World Champions

770-287-7888 office

770-561-0382 cell




Robyn Lynch,

Lake Lanier Olympic Park



About Lake Lanier Olympic Park| Known as Atlanta’s Hamptons, the Lake Lanier area is an upscale community on the rise, 45 minutes northeast of downtown Atlanta. With its location between the big city and the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Lanier also offers easy access to Appalachian culture and attractions. On the eastern shoreline of Lake Lanier in Hall County, there are 10 full service marinas with year-round access to multiple watersports. The crown jewel of Lake Lanier’s watersport venues is Lake Lanier Olympic Park (LLOP), a world-class sporting and special events facility. Over the past 19 years, the LLOP has hosted prestigious international sporting, civic, social and corporate events, including the 1996 Olympic Games. Lake Lanier celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Olympic Legacy May 19-22, 2016, when the community played host to the Pan-American Championships for sprint canoe/kayak.  The natural beauty surrounding Lake Lanier Olympic Park is unmatched by similar centers in the country and serves as a keystone in the community’s recreational offerings. Beyond experiencing the thrill of the Championships, spectators in the area can also enjoy the attractions, shopping and dining this world-class destination has to offer. As the most visited U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake in the world, Lake Lanier is a natural choice for beaches, boating and other water-based recreational pursuits. The surrounding area, with its Southern and Appalachian heritage, boasts a rich and diverse blend of museums, attractions and annual events that help round out the destination as a year-round choice for travelers. Enjoy zip lines and canopy tours, equestrian trails, hiking and biking while taking in the areas’ farm markets and main street shops. Lanier Islands Resort is the primary lodging destination with hotel, villa, lake house and camping accommodations. Here you’ll find a white sand beach, water park with slides and wave pool, a wide variety of dining and entertainment options, as well as many special events held year-round.


For more information:


Origin of Dragon Boat Racing

Dragon Boat Races date back 2,000 years and have its origins in an ancient Chinese legend. As the story goes, there was a well-loved patriot poet named Qu Yuan during the 4th century B.C. Although loved by the people, corrupt court officials banished Yuam. Yuam, unable to bare his sorrow, drowned himself in the Mi Lo River. Local fishermen raced out in their boats in attempt to save him but arrived too late. In order to lure fish away from the body, they beat the water with their paddles and tossed rice dumplings into the river. The dragon boat races are a re-enactment of the attempt to save Qu Yuan and have become a major part of Chinese culture, representing patriotism and group integrity.