Saturday, April 14, 2001
Israeli finds peace in paddling
Kolganov won Olympic bronze
Israeli kayaker Michael
Kolganov said he feels at home in Gainesville. And the Olympic
bronze medalist showed it Friday, winning his 500-meter single
heat in the Wachovia World Cup on Lake Lanier by more than 2 seconds.
Kolganov, 26, arrived
in Gainesville on April 2. It's the first trip to the United
States for the native of Uzbekistan, part of the former Soviet
the same as Israel," Kolganov said through an interpreter. "Except
everything in Israel is smaller."
actually, is quite large. He's 6-foot-2, nearly 200 pounds --
and solid muscle.
On October 1, 2000,
Kolganov edged out reigning world champion Akos Vereckei of
Hungary for third place in a stormy K-1 500 final in Sydney.
The race started more than six hours late due to heavy winds,
and conditions were still rough during the race.
was Israel's only medal of the Games and just the fourth Olympic
medal in the country's 53-year history. Kolganov's feat also
came on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
"After the competition,
it was a very difficult day, I was so tired and I didn't do
much," Kolganov said. "But the Israeli people were twice happy,
because it was a holiday and because I won my medal. I felt
very good to be able to give my people such a good gift."
Kolganov left Uzbekistan
six years ago, when he had no coach and the country was in political
The situation in
Israel, of course, remains volatile. But Kolganov said he lives
far away from the Palestinian border wars.
"The place where
I stay, I see no problems whatsoever," Kolganov said. " I have
a very routine life. I am very happy and content. It's very
Kolganov makes his
home in the Jordan Valley, located in northeast Israel. He lives
in a kibbutz -- an Israeli collective settlement in which all
wealth is held in common -- and trains on the Sea of Galilee.
He also serves in the national army, which all male Israelis
Kolganov first tried
kayaking when he was 12 years old. According to some of his
teammates back then, he was lucky not to sink his boat.
"As far as I can
remember, when he came to our club he was short and fat," said
Ivan Kireev, 33, who moved to Atlanta after paddling for Uzbekistan
in 1996 Olympics. "He didn't stay that way for long."
Kireev also coached
Kolganov before he moved to Israel. He said Kolganov was unique
from the start.
"Ever since he was
a small boy, he always thought about what he was doing and why,"
Kireev explained. "He was interested in not just doing what
the coach told him to do, but to know exactly why he was doing
these things. He's a smart athlete, not just a big machine."
But Kolganov sure
moves through the water like a machine. He did Friday. Just
ask Lanier Canoe & Kayak Club athlete Ty Hagler, who paddled
two lanes over.
"I got a great view
of his back," said Hagler, 21, a student at Georgia Tech. "He
just has a very powerful stroke. Very clean. Very efficient.
You can really tell that he's a champion."
Kolganov made a
point to compete in this weekend's World Cup, because the Clarks
Bridge Park Olympic venue is the site of the 2003 World Championships,
the sport's most prestigious event and a qualifier for the 2004
Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
"I like the view
here," Kolganov said of Lake Lanier. "You have the forest and
the lake. This sport is so beautiful, I don't know why it's
not more popular."
Friday's heat winners
Junior men's K1 1000: Jason Burrows, USA, 4:41.938
Junior men's K1 1000: Keith Goodman, USA, 4:45.678
Senior men's C1 1000: Martin Doktor, CZE, 4:31.822
Senior men's C1 1000: Maxime Boilard, CAN, 4:44.833
Senior men's K1 1000: Dereck Bordeleau, CAN, 4:11.942
Senior men's K1 1000: Adam Van Koeverden, CAN, 4:16.725
Junior women's K1 1000: Morgan Feori, USA, 5:34.318
Junior women's KI 1000: Nicole Uebel, USA, 5:12.611
Senior women's C1 1000: Hillary Adams, CAN, 5:24.390
Senior women's C1 1000: Sara Lawlor, CAN, 5:32.161
Junior men's K1 500: Will Griffeth, USA, 2:04.597
Junior men's K1 500: Keith Goodman, USA, 1:59.095
Senior men's C1 500: Martin Doktor, CZE, 2:01.618
Senior men's C1 500: Maxime Boilard, CAN, 2:05.703
Senior men's K1 500: Michael Kolganov, ISR, 1:51.026
Senior men's K1 500: Mihai Apostol, CAN, 1:50.258
Senior men's K1 500: Bartosz Wolski, USA, 1:50.705
Junior women's K1 500: Nicole Uebel, USA, 2:15.856
Junior women's K1 500: Amanda Donahue, USA, 2:24.796
Senior women's K1 500: Karen Furneaux, CAN, 2:07.134
Senior women's K1 500: Marie Josee Gibeau-Ouimet, CAN, 2:06.011
Senior women's C1 500: Hillary Adams, CAN, 2:48.619
Senior women's C1 500: Meghan Thomas, CAN, 2:58.585