It's Time You Discovered Columbus! | Sports Destination Management

It's Time You Discovered Columbus!

Mar 19, 2024
Columbus, Georgia

It's time you discovered Columbus, Georgia! The international sports community has long known this is the place for hot action on the water. It was the host setting for the ICF Canoe Freestyle World Cup in both 2022 and 2023, and it brought out the elite athletes in force. In 2022, the competition featured more than 100 athletes from 15 countries. In 2023, that number rose to 300 athletes from 30 countries. In each case, athletes tested their skills against not only one another but against the waters of Columbus.

If you’ve never seen this type of water sport, it's worth the watch. It’s also known as playboating and combines white water kayaking skills with gymnastics level twists, turns, flips and tricks. Bonus points can be earned for keeping the boat under water deeper or longer during mystery moves.

Columbus is not new to hosting international events, having also been home to Olympic Women’s Softball for the 1996 games, the USA Softball International Cup and the IBGA golf championships, among others.

So what can Columbus do for you today? A lot, thanks to our amazing and dedicated staff. The Columbus, GA Sports Council’s experienced staff and cadre of loyal volunteers work harmoniously with other city organizations to ensure smooth, successful events, and the area’s wealth of entertainment, restaurants, hotels and generous hospitality combine to make Columbus a truly extraordinary sports destination.

RushSouth WhiteWater Park boasts the longest urban course in the world and one of the most exciting sections of whitewater in the country. The course is one and a half-miles along the Chattahoochee River, which conveniently lies directly adjacent to sister cities Columbus, Georgia and Phenix City, Alabama

“We have an insanely unique opportunity with this whitewater venue running right through downtown,” said Merri Sherman, executive director of Columbus, GA Sports Council. “With Columbus and neighboring Phenix City right along the riverbanks, athletes can walk from where they camp and compete to go eat at great restaurants, see amazing attractions, and not have to worry about transportation.”

The rapids have been aptly described “as wild as Colorado and as warm as Costa Rica.” With dam-controlled flow, the course features two varied types of whitewater rafting and kayaking experiences. In the morning, low-flow excursions offer just the right amount of adventure for the whole family, but in the afternoon, high flow thrusts up to 13,000 cfs of adrenaline-pumping whitewater into class III to V rapids.

Ziplining across the river extends the adventure, stretching from one state to the other, and the Chattahoochee RiverWalk presents the perfect vantage point for watching kayakers compete, while also inviting visitors to explore its miles of paved walking, running or biking with access to even more area trails.

Due to Columbus’ Southern climate, the area has also become known as the Wintering Grounds, with year round access to warmer water, allowing athletes to hone their skills and stay sharp during months when many other rivers are too frigid.

Whether for an international kayaking event, an Olympic softball series or a cheer competition, Columbus, Georgia promises a top-notch experience. T.E.A.M. Columbus represents a unique partnership of Visit Columbus, Columbus Parks and Recreation and Columbus Sports Council, as well as many others, all working together to host and promote sporting events.


These organizations work seamlessly together, providing facilities management and event management, along with housing, accommodations, marketing support and, of course, first-class customer service.

For the ICF Canoe Freestyle World Cup and Championships, for example, T.E.A.M. Columbus joined with the cities and Chambers of Commerce of both Columbus and Phenix City to lend their expertise in support of the official event hosts, Uptown Columbus and Whitewater Express.

“A large group of business and community leaders make up our host committee for this event,” noted Ed Wolverton, President and CEO of Uptown Columbus, Inc., “and they were involved with everything from monitoring water levels to site development, logistics, marketing and a major fundraising effort as well.”

To help involve the local residents who have likely never heard of freestyle kayaking, the host committee has even developed a community festival around the sporting event.

“We called it the RushSouth Outdoor Festival, which will include two stages with several bands,” Wolverton said.


The committee considered every aspect of the experience for the athletes, judges, and other visitors, coordinating with the Columbus Airport and Groome Transportation shuttles to ensure athletes could travel as conveniently as possible with their kayaks and gear in tow.

Columbus, Georgia is an extraordinary town, pulsating with a vibrant artsy energy, serving up phenomenal food and offering ample outdoor recreation. Just 75 miles south of Atlanta with easy access via U.S. Interstate 185, Columbus provides all the resources of a large city but with none of the big city traffic.

Columbus boasts more than 4,700 hotel rooms, and the roster of restaurants has grown exponentially, cooking up just the right cuisine for everyone from barbecue connoisseurs to the most finicky foodies. If shopping is on your to-do list, the Chattahoochee Valley also houses a wide array of unique local boutiques, complemented by a host of familiar chains.

Nowhere else can you raft and kayak the Chattahoochee whitewater, zipline between states, visit world class museums, dine at topflight restaurants, catch a Broadway-caliber play and then groove to live music late into the night — and do much of it without ever getting into a car.

In addition to the internationally recognized RushSouth Whitewater Park, Columbus’ impressive collection of outstanding sports facilities include South Commons, recognized as a USA Softball Complex of the Year; Cooper Creek, the largest public clay tennis court facility in the U.S.; a state of the art natatorium; Bull Creek, a Golf Digest top 25 public course; a regulation hockey and ice skating rink, just to name a few.

Whatever the sport, Columbus, Georgia beckons with the perfect venue and destination for your next event. Let our team know what they can do for yours!

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