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Lake Lanier training ground for Gainseville athletes born from Atlanta Olympics

9:36 AM, Sep 6, 2013   |    comments
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An image from the Opening Ceremony of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games at Centennial Olympic Stadium (now Turner Field) in Atlanta (Getty Images file)

GAINSEVILLE, Ga. -- There's a hidden gem of Olympic proportions in Gainesville.  It's a piece of sports history that is inspiring a future generation of athletes on Lake Lanier, attracting young Olympic hopefuls who have medals on their minds.

They won't have to wait one minute to feel the Olympic spirit.  At every practice the kayakers get a taste of the 1996 games.

"The mission of the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club is to be a legacy of the '96 Olympics. We are here to promote canoe and kayak," explained group President David Haack.

This training ground was born at the actual Olympic finish line.  The club leases the facility.

"Seeing the tower in the back ground. It's awesome  I just think about all the guys that come down this course and what the course is all about," said athlete Chris Miller.

"We have the venue. We have the water. All the people in the club, it's like a family," explained coach Claudiu Ciur.

Thousands of kids come through the program.  It came full circle when one of its members made the 2012 Olympic team, placing 15th in the world.

"I'd just like to make the Olympics to tell you the truth.  I'd like to make the team and go from there," Miller said.

He is on his way, already a national champion who got his start on the Olympic course in Gainesville.

"It's one of the best facilities around in the nation," Miller said.

The perfect setting to cheer on gold medal dreams from a gold medal venue. 

"This program and the facility is the best in the world.  Not just best in Gainesville, Atlanta or best in Georgia. It's best in the world," said coach Morgan House.

The Lanier Kayak and Canoe Club trains thousands of kids every year.  It's also open to the public.  

It offers canoe and kayak rentals and paddle boarding, too.  

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