Anyone who has toured ETSU’s mini-dome knows that the university boasts an official Olympic Training Site. However, many don’t know that two athletes who trained at this site competed in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.
Michal Smolen and Casey Eichfeld both train at ETSU and competed in kayak and canoe events in Rio this month.
Eichfeld, who made his third Olympic appearance at Rio, placed seventh in the men’s canoe single event and tenth in the men’s canoe double event. Smolen made his Olympic debut this summer and placed 12th in the men’s kayak single event.
Meg Stone, Director of ETSU’s OTS and two-time Olympian herself, said that both athletes have several upcoming international events following the Rio games.
“[They] won’t finish their competition season until October,” Stone said.
Eichfeld and Smolen are non-resident athletes with the university and spend most of their training season in Charlotte, N.C. Stone says that Eichfeld and Smolen frequently come to ETSU to meet with Brad DeWeese, assistant professor in the Department of Exercise Science.
“[DeWeese] resets them and monitors their strength and conditioning program,” she said. “He actually keeps in touch with them on a daily basis. They text him their daily exercise routines.”
Canoeing and kayaking aren’t the only Olympic events which athletes train for at ETSU. The opening of the university’s official OTS in April of 2012 coincided with the start of an on-site Olympic weightlifting program.
No athletes from this program went to Rio this summer, but hopefully that will change in the future.
“We are a fairly new program and you really have to be lifting for 4 to 5 years before you can expect to compete in the Olympics” Stone said. “The program is shooting for the Olympic Trials in 2020 and is hopeful to get somebody in the next games.”
Before you can expect to see weightlifters representing USA and ETSU in Tokyo’s 2020 Summer Games, be on the lookout for bobsled driver Steven Holcomb in the Pyeong-Chang 2018 Winter Olympics.
“[Holcomb] won gold in Vancouver and bronze in Sochi,” Stone said. “He is here now preparing for the 2018 Winter Olympics.”