Get to know the athletes who have lived and trained at Lake Lanier, hoping to make their Olympic dreams a reality
Tim Hornsby, Olympian
Race: K1 200
Tim Hornsby is an Atlanta, Georgia, native and graduated from Lakeside High School in 2004. Hornsby watched the 2016 Olympic Games live at Lake Lanier Olympic Park in 1996 and instantly fell in love with the sport. Hornsby has been on the water since age 11 when he learned to paddle at spring break camp. After high school, Hornsby was accepted to the University of California San Diego, Jacob’s School of Engineering. He was first coached by Tony Hall in 1997 at the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club and is LCKC’s first Olympian. Hornsby competed in the 2012 Olympics in London and hopes to qualify for the 2016 Games in Rio by way of the Pan American Championships. Photo Credit: www.TeamUSA.org
Race: C1 200
Canoer Ben Hefner is a Gainesville native looking to make his ultimate dream come true: competing in the Olympic Games. Hefner’s love of flat-water sports started at the age of 13 and will reach its pinnacle point at the Pan American Championships, “The past ten years really is all going to come down to 40 seconds of racing.” Rio already holds two C1 200 Meter spots filled, which means Hefner will have to beat out 30 other countries to make it to the 2016 Games. Hefner’s coach Claudiu Ciur believes his chances are good, “He has high potential because this 200 meter event started in the Olympics in 2012,” Ciur said. “He has a big chance and a big shot to win the Pan American Championships in our Olympic venue.” Hefner works out seven hours a day, seven days a week in preparation for the Pan Am. Although he’s excited to be on his home waters, he admits that the extra down time can give him the jitters and that he may check into a hotel during the tournament. With a degree in Physics from the University of North Georgia, when Hefner is not on the water, he works as an after-school engineering teacher.
Race: K2 500
Kayaker Farran Smith is a Gainesville native who is having her breakout year in 2016. After excelling at the national Junior level–even competing at the Junior World Championships in Hungary, Smith, along with her partner Samantha Barlow, made the cut to compete in the Women’s K2 500 at the Pan American Championships. Coach Claudiu Ciur says, at the age of 16, Smith is the youngest U.S. athlete competing at the Pan Am and believes she is also the youngest woman competing in any racing sport in the US Olympic Trials.
Ian Ross & Gavin Ross Canoers Birthdays: 11/18/1992, 10/9/1995
Races: C1 1000, C2 1000
Ian and Gavin Ross are brothers who had an early introduction to paddling. Their parents were high-level, flat-water athletes, “Both of my parents paddled competitively so I had the opportunity to get in lots of boats growing up. Racing sprint is just a natural outgrowth of that early exposure,” explained Gavin. The Ross brothers were born in Maryland but call Lake Lanier home. Ian will compete as a single athlete in the 1000 meter canoe sprint and in a double boat with his brother Gavin during the Pan American Championships. https://vimeo.com/165870143
Race: K1 1000, K2 1000, K2 200
Chris Miller is a decorated kayaker from Gainesville, Georgia. In the USA Team Trials in April, Miller owned the 1000 meter race, finishing all alone, six seconds ahead of the silver medalist. Miller’s career started in middle school on Lake Lanier’s waters. When he’s not training on Lake Lanier, he’s working at Lake Lanier’s Canoe and Kayak Rental shop. Miller has a degree from University of North Georgia.
Race: K2 1000, K2 200
Stanton Collins is a Gainesville native who started paddling at the age of 10. Collins won multiple awards at the Junior level, competing in three World Championships, six National Championships and has held a number of National Titles. Collins will compete in the Pan American Championships as part of a two-man kayak team with Chris Miller.