Of course we're all rooting for the canoe/kayak competitors representing the red, white, and blue this summer. But the fact remains that the competition is stiff and it's going to be a tough road ahead for our paddlers in Beijing. Here is a list of the most formidable foes that our United States Canoe/Kayak team will have to face in order to secure their place on the podium.
1. Tony Estanguet of France
With gold medals in both the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, Tony Estanguet is the premier slalom c-1 canoe/kayak competitor. That's not to say that he was a given in 2004 as the gold was only awarded to him as a result of a judge's ruling. Tony will be leading the charge for all of France's athletes this summer at the opening ceremonies.
2. Michal Martikan of Slovakia
In his first Olympic appearance in 1996, Michal Martikan won the gold medal in the C-1 competition. He earned silver medals in the next two Olympics in 2000 and 2004. The Athens Games were particularly competitive as Martikan had originally thought he won the gold only to lose it after the instant replay revealed that he actually had touched two gates.
3. Elena Kaliska of Slovakia
Coming off a gold medal in the K-1 slalom event in Athens in 2004, Elena Kaliska has competed in three Olympics. Beijing will be her fourth Olympic and potentially her final Olympic appearance. Known as a fierce competitor, Elena will be defending her gold medal with a vengeance.
4. Campbell Walsh of Great Britain
With a silver medal in the K-1 event at the 2004 Athens Olympics, Campbell Walsh is on a mission to take the gold in Beijing. Walsh has made a name for himself by routinely finishing in the top five regardless of the competition.
5. Adam van Koeverden of Canada
With a gold and bronze medal in the K-1 500m and 1000m flatwater events respectively, Adam van Koeverden has a lot to defend this summer in Beijing. Since those 2004 games, van Koeverden has placed a number of times including a K-1 500m world title and a second place finish in the K-1 1000m in 2007.