The Olympics are back in the Peach State for 20th Anniversary of Atlanta Games

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This spring, Lake Lanier will be back in the Olympic spotlight as they host intense qualifiers for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

LAKE LANIER/HALL COUNTY – JANUARY 2016 – It’s been 20 years since Georgia hosted the Olympic games; now, two decades later the Olympics are back in the Peach State. Lake Lanier Olympic Park will continue its Olympic legacy May 19-22, 2016, when the park hosts the Pan-American Championships for Sprint Canoe/Kayak. This event is the last Continental Olympic Qualifier before the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Just a forty-five minute drive from downtown Atlanta, Lake Lanier is nestled between the lights of the big city and the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains. The 1996 Olympic Games was one of the very first events ever to be held at Lake Lanier Olympic Park. Considering the Olympics are the grandest sporting event in the World, venue management never knew if they would hold an event of that magnitude ever again. However, 20 years after the 1996 Games, The Gainesville/ Hall ’96 Foundation with the help of the Lake Lanier Convention & Visitors Bureau will once again host some of the greatest athletes in the world at the Pan American Championships on Lake Lanier, a fierce four-day competition packed with elite competitors from North, South and Central America, all vying for a spot in the 2016 Olympic Games.

Lake Lanier Olympic Park will also hold one of the last Paracanoe qualifiers at the USA Canoe/Kayak Paralympic Team trials, April 29-30, 2016. This is the first time in history that Paracanoe is being included in the Paralympics. The USA Canoe Kayak Paralympic Team will be selected in two stages. A maximum of 12 athletes, two in each of the disability classes,will be selected from the trials at Lake Lanier to compete in the Paracanoe World Championships in Duisburg, Germany. The winners of the World Championships, will then go on to compete in the Paralympic games in Brazil, September 7-18, 2016.

General interest in Lake Lanier as a tourism destination grew tremendously following the global exposure of The Games in 1996. Tourism was at an all-time high following the 2003 Junior World Championships held at the park. Lake Lanier Olympic Park hopes that the Pan Am Championship, along with the Paralympic Team Trials, will boost tourism even more, heralding a new era of development of the park as a recreational center for Lake Lanier and Metro Atlanta.

With the two events quickly approaching, Lake Lanier Olympic Park is undergoing a $1 million renovation to help bring the facility up to caliber to hold such a prestigious event. The renovations include a full interior makeover of the Olympic Tower, an additional restroom in the tower and two ADA accessible ramps. Beautification improvements are also underway–a new butterfly garden, public art displays and an exhibit of the historical timeline of the park are being added.

Since the ’96 games, grandstands have been added to the park (believe it or not, there were only “floating stands” back in ’96), as well as a plaza. These additions make it possible to host larger sporting events and also make the park more useful for the public by providing a place to host weddings, corporate events and festivals. Also, expect to see a new name in the coming weeks. Lake Lanier Olympic Park will soon be known as Lake Lanier Olympic Park, pending Board approval.

The Paralympic Team Trials and the Pan American Championship are open and free to the public. Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Atlanta Games with a taste of the Olympics here at home, on the waters of Lake Lanier.