Blendinger wins another kayak national championship


Dr. Jack Blendinger

By: 
DANNY P. SMITH
Staff Writer

Dr. Jack Blendinger was successful at his craft once again.

The Mississippi State professor and Starkville’s resident world-class scholar-athlete set an American record for octogenarian (80-89) sprint canoe and Kayak racers by medaling for the 13th straight year at the 2018 United States Canoe and Kayak Sprint National Championships in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Blendinger, a life-long California surfer, launched his sprint racing career in 2006 and continues to stay one paddle stroke ahead of Father Time. Showing no inclination of slowing down, the 85-year-old athlete hopes to race on the international stage as far into his 90s as possible.

The site of his latest success, the 2018 regatta was held on August 1-4 on the Oklahoma River. The event is sponsored by the American Canoe Association, which is the officially governing authority in the United States for paddle sports.

"The race course, located in the heart of the city, offered competitors a unique urban canoeing and kayaking experience," Blendinger said in a statement. "The four-day event included competitors of all ages from across the country.

"Approximately 500 men and women athletes participated in the regatta in one of five divisions according to age and gender."

Those divisions were Bantam (13-years-old or younger), Juvenile (15-years-old or younger, Junior (17-years-old or younger), Masters (30-years-old or older), and Senior (open). Seniors are not limited to the age requirements of any of the other four class divisions.

"Seniors, usually athletes 18-years or older, may paddle only in “senior” designated events," Blendinger said. "Most regatta races range between 200 to 1,000 meters, although some events range between 3,000 to 5,000 meters."

In recognition of achieving top six finishes in three events, ranging in distance from 500 to 1,000 meters, Blendinger also received All-National Honors for the 13th time by earning hard-to-come-by points for his racing team. The team is sponsored by the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club, located in Gainesville, Georgia. In 13 years (2006-2018) of kayak racing in the national championships, Blendinger has made 55 trips to the podium to receive 28 gold medals, 12 silver medals, and 15 bronze medals.

The LCKC racing team (2017 national regatta champions) entered the 2018 competition in pursuit of the club’s 12th championship Gold Regatta Cup but was edged out by the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team and had to settle for the Silver Regatta Cup (second place).

Gig Harbor, home base for the 2018 champions, is a city located on the shore of Washington’s Puget Sound about an hour’s drive from Seattle. San Diego, highly ranked among America’s seaside cities, is considered one of the premier locations in which to live and pursue aquatic sports.

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