Tokyo 2021

NRC Athletes Take On Tokyo

Some of the Nantahala Racing Club’s best paddlers will have a chance to head to Japan to compete in the 2021 Summer Olympics. Meet the athletes below and consider making a contribution to their fundraising efforts. Your support makes a huge difference to each of these athletes in their pursuit of the Olympics. Please consider making a contribution to the future of these athletes and the sport.

Meet the Athletes…


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Evy Leibfarth: (Bryson City, NC) Evy spends most of her whitewater time in a slalom boat, training on the gates with her dad, a former U.S. Junior National Team Coach and slalom racer. She loves the way a slalom boat moves through the water, the feeling she gets when she starts going fast, and the challenge of negotiating the gates. In 2016, Evy became the youngest athlete to compete in the U.S. Slalom Olympic Team Trials, and also qualified for the U.S. Junior National Team, but was too young to take the spot. 

Evy loves to kayak more than anything in the world, but she also enjoys standup paddling boarding, surfing, mountain biking, throwing the occasional round of disc golf, and drawing. Evy’s favorite quote is: “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m Possible!” 

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Michal Smolen – I remember my first race very well. There was a feeling of thrill and excitement of chasing something, even if it was out of reach for me at the time. This experience opened me up to something huge and I realized soon after how much I loved to compete. Dreaming big started to become a daily routine for me as a kid. I’ve always been very ambitious but I never expected things to just happen for me. I wanted to win the Junior World Championships and so I worked very hard to make that goal a reality. In the end, I was 4th. That was a hard pill to swallow for a 16 year old especially after getting so close. Fast forward nearly ten years and you really start to see how that experience led me to dream even bigger. My next goal was to win the U-23 World Championships. Crazy enough, I actually achieved this goal! The dreams became even bigger after that and I remember telling myself that I wanted to win the Senior World Championships and go to the Olympics.

In case you’re wondering, I still haven’t been able to win the World Championships but I did get pretty close with a bronze medal back in 2015. Plus, shortly after this medal I qualified and competed at my first Olympic Games. Like I said, it’s not often that dreams actually become a reality. It takes a tremendous amount of hard work and many years of experience before you’re able to figure out the equation to your own success. I’ve been so lucky to be part of this amazing sport and I can’t wait for another chance to make my dreams a reality, this time in Tokyo at the 2020 Olympics!

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