Local News
News from Gainesville and northeast Georgia.


Today's obituaries from The Times

Local Sports
Area high school
and college sports.


Editorials, letters, and columnists.


Forecast and latest conditions.


Your guide to the 'Net, gadgets, games and more.


Breaking headlines from The Associated Press.

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 Union.

"Everything looks the same as Israel," Kolganov said through an interpreter. "Except everything in Israel is smaller."

Kolganov himself, 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.

Kolganov's bronze 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 shambles.

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 peaceful."

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 must do.

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."

Wachovia World Cup

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


Michael Kolganov, of the Israel Canoe Association, paddles to a win in a 500-meter senior men's kayak heat race Friday afternoon at the Wachovia World Cup at Clarks Bridge Park on Lake Lanier.


Martin Doktor of the Czech Canoe Union carries his canoe back to the water after a post-race check Friday afternoon. Doktor is no stranger to the Lake Lanier course -- he won two gold medals at the 1996 Olympics at Clarks Bridge Park.


Michael Kolganov Kayaker won Israel's only medal in Sydney Olympics.


Ty Hagler Lanier Canoe & Kayak Club member said he "got a great view" of Israeli paddler Michael Kolganov's back during a race Friday.

Wachovia World Cup 2001 International

  • What: an 11-country, 155-athlete sprint canoe/kayak event that kicks of the International Canoe Federation's racing season, which includes five World Cup events.
  • Where: Clarks Bridge Park Olympic venue, Lake Lanier
  • When: today-Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
  • Admission: Free
  • Boat ramp: Clarks Bridge Park boat ramp will be closed through Sunday. Boaters are asked to avoid the race course area. Boat traffic will be allowed to travel past the course at no-wake speed only during breaks in competition.

  • Home