July 16, 2018

Fastest Growing Water Sport in the World Comes to Lake Lanier Olympic Park

LLOP will host the Dragon Boat World Championships September 13-16

LAKE LANIER, GEORGIA—July 2018—Lake Lanier Olympic Park (LLOP) will host the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Dragon Boat World Championships September 13-16. With its beginnings in Southern China, dragon boating is the fastest growing international team water sport today. Each year, race festivals are held around the world in Asia, Australia, Europe, Canada and the United States, with a 22% increase in participation each year.

This year, LLOP has the honor of hosting the ICF Dragon Boat World Championships with 1,500 athletes from over 25 countries—including the United States, Japan, and Italy. This is the first year that the ICF has held the World Championships in North America. Athletes 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.

Team USA will have multiple teams participating in the world tournament. Around 10,000 spectators are expected to attend the races at Lake Lanier Olympic Park and the estimated economic impact is predicted to be five million dollars to the Gainesville area.

About the Race
LLOP submitted a bid in 2014 to host the event and was selected for a variety of reasons, including having the longest stretch of flat water in the United States. Due to the natural barriers, the Park’s water is known throughout the world as the most fair for athletes and boasts one of the best competition venues for flatwater sports world-wide. Hosting world-class competitions, as well as local and national athletes and teams, this venue and its ideal racing course—with a naturally-flowing straightaway of over 3,000 meters—is a highly desirable location for high-performance training.

Once in the spirit with the Championship’s cultural offerings, spectators will cheer on the colorful competition on the flat waterway. There are two standard size boats. One holds twenty paddlers, a steersman and a drummer, the other holds ten paddlers, a steersman and a drummer. At least two boats compete against each other over distances from 200 to 2000 meters and above. Strength, endurance and teamwork are the upmost importance for racers hoping to earn top nods.

Interviews with the coaches and local athletes as they train for this worldwide competition are available.


Jim O’Dell
Canoe/Kayak/Dragon Boat Coach
Team Building Facilitator
Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club; 2017 Sprint National Champions
Regional and Junior National Coach
Dragon Boat USA; 2014 World Champions
3105 Clarks Bridge Rd.
Gainesville, GA 30506 USA
770-287-7888 office
770-561-0382 cell

Robyn Lynch,
Lake Lanier Olympic Park

Origin of Dragon Boat Racing
Dragon Boat Races date back 2,000 years and have origins in an ancient Chinese legend. As the story goes, there was a well-loved patriot poet named Qu Yuan who lived during the 4th century B.C. Although loved by the people, corrupt court officials banished Yuam. Yuam, unable to cope with 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.

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.

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Image Caption: September 13-16, Lake Lanier Olympic Park will host the largest world gathering of athletes in the area since the Centennial Olympic Games in 1996, during the International Canoe Federation Dragon Boat World Championships.
Credit: Lake Lanier Olympic Park