Blendinger continues a run of national titles with KCCK

By: 
DANNY P. SMITH
Staff Writer

It never gets old for Jack Blendinger.

Winning national championships in the sport of kayaking still gives the Starkville resident and world-class octogenarian scholar-athlete a reason to smile.

Blendinger, who competed in his 12th-straight national championship regatta at the 2017 United States Canoe and Kayak Sprint National Championship, helped Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club wins its 11th national canoe and kayak spring racing title in its 21st year of existence.

Along the way Blendinger earned All-National honors by placing in the top 10 finishers for seven events.

“It’s a great club I belong to with fantastic coaches.” Blendinger said. “It’s just been a wonderful experience, so I keep going. I’m afraid to stop. I don’t know what would happen if I stopped.”

The Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club was founded in 1994 when Atlanta hosted the 1996 Olympic Games. Canoeing, kayaking and rowing competitions for the Olympics were held at Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia.

Out of LCKC’s more than 250 active members, approximately 60 hard-core athletes, ranging in age from 10 to 84, comprise the club’s international racing team.

It wasn’t easy for LCKC to claim its 11th championship trophy. The Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team, which finished second overall, provided stiff competition, as well as the San Diego Canoe and Kayak Racing Team, which came in third.

The 2017 championship regatta was held on August 2-5 in Washington Park on Lake Minnesota in Clermont, Florida. Over 500 athletes participated in the regatta in one of five age groups.

During the 12 years (2006-2017) of world-class kayak racing competition, Blendinger has played a key role in helping LCKC win seven of the club’s 11 national championships, which individually taking 28 gold, 12 silver and 14 bronze medals.

This month marks Blendinger’s 28th year as a professor at Mississippi State and 62nd as a professional educator.

He counts it a joy to be able to share his experience with who he instructs.

“It’s a challenge but a great to help me to interact with my students because they are interested in my racing,” Blendinger said.

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