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Olympic Trials underway at RIVERSPORT OKC, families cheering on loved ones

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Olympic Trials underway at RIVERSPORT OKC, families are cheering on loved ones for chance at Team USA.

Athletes from across the country are competing to live out their Olympic dreams in Paris. For some of them, that journey starts right here in Oklahoma City. Several families waited in the wings and cheered while their loved ones took on choppy waters to see if they can make Team USA for canoe-kayak events.

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For some, canoe-kayaking is a family business with a long lineage with these Olympic trials being a link in that chain.

“Been doing this since 89,” spectator Tom Long said. “So this is sort of a tradition that is a generational one.”

A tradition that includes a little workout for Long to run up and down the sides and watch his two grandkids compete for a spot on team USA. All the way from Idaho, his jacket dons the family name of their raft company and kayak school.

“We move it down to South America, to Chile in the winter so that we don’t have to wear long pants,” he said.

His kids run it now. He has three sons and two of them raced for team USA in World Cups. Long said he still coaches though, in a way keeping the family tradition rolling on down the river.

“This is a hard sport,” he said.

It’s a hard sport for adults, let alone a 16-year-old girl like Isabella Altman. From Washington D.C. she started on the Potomac River at 3 years old. Friday was her first Olympic trial run.

“To be at the same level as Olympians basically is just so cool,” Altman said.

Her dad Jonathan, a former racer himself, works for her club team and films her and each of her teammates as they race. He said it’s something that keeps him busy as not to stress out.

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“It helps kind of keep it down a little bit, gives me something to do so I don’t focus on it too much,” he said.

Still beyond proud of his daughter, the sports difficulty does nothing to her focus on her love for it. It never fades, which breeds hopes and dreams of Olympic glory.

“The goal is to keep doing this until my body tells me time to stop or it stops being fun,” she said. “But this is what I want to do with my life.”

The Olympic Trials continue Saturday starting at 11 a.m. weather permitting.

Learn more at riversportokc.org.

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