Walker Valley Grad Bennett To Compete In Kayaking World Championships

  • Thursday, June 20, 2024
  • Joe Cannon
CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- After a sendoff from where his kayaking career started in 2018, recent Walker Valley graduate Bennett George showed off his skills near the burnt-out Ocoee Whitewater Center last weekend before heading out for his second straight World Championship competition.

After being ranked 28th internationally after his showing at the 2023 World Kayak Championships, held in Krakow, Poland, last August, George won the 18-under Team USA qualifying trials in April, in Montgomery, Alabama.

George won the the Team USA Trials with a best time of 114.39, which beat the second-place finisher by 12 seconds.

He is now ranked No.
1 in the country in slalom and kayak cross and George leads the US National Kayak Team into the 2024 Junior Championship in Kayak/Canoe Slalom in Miskolc, Slovakia July 2-7.

Additionally George is also sixth in line to qualify for the 2024 Olympics, to be held in Paris later this summer.

He was able to celebrate with a send off party on the Ocoee River last Saturday where all of his friends and family came to watch him paddle and wish him well as he headed out Sunday, giving him time to train on the course in Slovakia before the competition. 

Bennett said, “I am so blessed to have so many companies like Rock Creek, the Mark Smith Foundation, and Easy Auto along with numerous family, friends and community members sending me with love, prayers, and financial support to make my dreams come true.

"I enjoyed showing them what I can do on the water,” he added. He was also recognized during Sunday morning service by his home Peerless Road Church of God of Prophecy the previous weekend.

"Bennett is so grateful that he comes from a community that supports him whether or not they know him personally," stated his mother Denise George, a Library/Media Specialist at Charleston Elementary STEAM Academy. 

"This community has cheered him on at the river when he practices, complete strangers donate to his cause, and multiple churches have reached out with prayers over him as he navigates new courses and countries. 

"Bennett is hopeful that his hard work and dedication will make his family, church, school, and the entire Cleveland community proud."

Having just turned 18 years old, this Bennett's last chance to race in the junior class and is hoping to rise in the world rankings this year, as he has trained heavily both on and off the water to earn the No. 1 ranking in the United States.

As for his chances of making the Paris Olympics, his father Chuck George explained, "They only take one kayaker to the Olympics now and he is up against guys that are several years older than him, but it's such an honor to be ranked that high. 

"He's shooting for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles."
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