Hundreds attended the opening reception for the 2016 Pan American Championships at Pearce Auditorium May 18, including Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan.
Grammy Award winner Mike Farris and the Roseland Rhythm Review capped off the ceremony with a soulful musical performance.
The best kayakers and canoers in South, Central and North America will compete at Lake Lanier Olympic Park through May 22. The qualifiers are the last before the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
More than 200 Olympic hopefuls from more than a dozen countries are staying at the athletes’ village on the grounds of Brenau University’s historic Gainesville campus during the competitions.
“They are the embodiment of the dreams of all canoer-sprint athletes,” said Pam American Canoe Confederation President Cecilia Farias, “and we wish them the best of luck.”