Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: River's International Influence Makes for a Happy Day in Oklahoma

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: River's International Influence Makes for a Happy Day in Oklahoma

Article excerpt

Yesterday was a happy day in Oklahoma. The U.S. Olympic Committee officially said what they said last week that they were going to say this week: The Oklahoma River is hereby designated an official Olympic training site for canoeing and kayaking.

Since there are only 10 such official sites, and we have two of them - the river and the University of Central Oklahoma - that's saying something. At the very least, it says we have some darned determined, persuasive people pitching central Oklahoma.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett had my favorite quote: "No sane person in 1993 went to the polls thinking, 'You know, if we impound water in that river, someday there will be canoers and kayakers competing for world championships.'" I'll go out on a paddle and say there weren't any crazy people thinking that either.

Becoming an official Olympic site is a bigger deal, Cornett said, than getting a Triple-A baseball team to play in Bricktown or an NBA team to play at the Ford Center. That might be a bit of well-timed hyperbole, but his point was that while the baseball and basketball teams were foreseeable consequences of building those facilities, the Olympic training designation was a surprise bonus for flooding the ditch.

His point is well-taken, but the Thunder does more than train here, despite what you might think after last year's performance. I don't recall 18,000 paying fans ever clamoring for tickets to kayaking practice, but then again I've been to a few RedHawks games where the crowd might have been comparable to the gathering at a canoe race.

Quick: Name the men who stunned everyone in men's double canoe flat-water 1,000-meter event in Beijing, China, last summer.

See? You can name Kevin Durant and maybe even the RedHawks' Esteban German, but there's no way you can come up with Andrei Bahdanovich and Aliaksandr Bahdanovich. You're probably not even sure which syllable gets the emphasis in Bahdanovich. …

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