Former Waikiki paddling coach leads gold medal run for Team USA

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Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 3:52 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Surfing wasn’t the only water sport to make its Olympics debut in Tokyo as the games also saw the unveiling of women’s canoe sprint.

Before coaching Team USA, Zsolt Szadovszki spent years working with a kayak club in Waikiki, so leading up to the Olympiad, he knew the ideal training grounds.

“We were able to launch from the Outrigger club, go around Diamond Head and head up towards Hawaii Kai,” said Szadovszki, who brought Team USA to train on Oahu in December. “So that was our daily schedule, mornings on the Ala Wai and afternoons in Kaimana beach or Outrigger club and go out to sea.”

Those mornings in the canal were key in a championship run.

Nineteen-year-old Nevin Harrison, Szadovszki’s star pupil, entered the games as the only American woman in the competition and parlayed the hard work into gold.

“Twice a day, basically doing the same thing and learning how to do it perfectly and able to do it under pressure, I was levitating and flying all over the place,” said Szadovszki while reflecting Harrison’s win. “It was amazing just to feel that energy and what comes with it.”

Szadovszki now trains athletes in Georgia and is already prepping for the 2024 games in Paris.

He plans to once again have a camp here and eventually hopes to one day set up a permanent training hub in what he calls the perfect environment.

“I really feel like that’s a good base for an offseason training camp and it just, I have to say, I went back after a few years and I felt like I never left,” Szadovszki said.

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