TOKYO — An American teenager has made history at the Tokyo Summer Olympics. 19-year-old Nevin Harrison became the first female from the U.S. to win a gold medal in the sport of canoe sprint.
By winning a new event, the Women’s 200 meter Canoe Single, Harrison not only became the first U.S. woman to claim gold, but Games statisticians say she’s only the third female teenager to win an Olympic canoe sprint race. Harrison beat her one-time idol and now rival, Canadian Laurence Vincent-Lapointe, who’s won multiple world championships and took silver in the 200 meters.
Harrison, a 2019 world champion, hopes her historic win can help make the sport more popular in America.
“We have a really amazing community in the U.S.,” Harrison said, “but it’s a small one, there aren’t a lot of athletes involved. So I’m hoping this can really help put it on the map, and get girls like me involved, and boys. Because it’s a cool sport. It’s fun, it’s competitive and it would be awesome to kind of get the U.S. up to the same level as a lot of countries that we’re competing against.”
Also Thursday, New Zealand’s Lisa Carrington won her third kayak gold medal of these Games and fifth gold of her Olympic career, stretching back to 2012 in London.
She’s now won more gold medals than any Olympian in her country’s history.
“It is really special,” Carrington said. “Growing up, to be an Olympian was the epitome of who you wanted to be. For me [this was] something I never thought I would be able to do.”
Carrington still can add to her medal total. She’ll take part in the Women’s Kayak Four 500 meters, beginning Friday.