It’s been 20 years since Georgia hosted the Olympic games; now, two decades later the Olympics are back in the Peach State. Lake Lanier Olympic Venue will continue its Olympic legacy May 19-22, 2016, when the park hosts the Pan-American Championships for Sprint Canoe/Kayak. This event is the last Continental Olympic Qualifier before the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Just a forty-five minute drive from downtown Atlanta, Lake Lanier is nestled between the lights of the big city and the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains. The 1996 Olympic Games was one of the very first events ever to be held at Lake Lanier Olympic Venue. Considering the Olympics are the grandest sporting event in the World, venue management never knew if they would hold an event of that magnitude ever again. However, 20 years after the 1996 Games, The Gainesville/ Hall ’96 Foundation with the help of the Lake Lanier Convention & Visitors Bureau will once again host some of the greatest athletes in the world at the Pan American Championships on Lake Lanier, a fierce four-day competition packed with elite competitors from North, South and Central America, all vying for a spot in the 2016 Olympic Games.
Lake Lanier Olympic Venue will also hold one of the last Paracanoe qualifiers at the USA Canoe/Kayak Paralympic Team trials April 29-30, 2016. This is the first time in history that Paracanoe is being included in the Paralympics. The USA Canoe Kayak Paralympic Team will be selected in two stages. A maximum of 12 athletes, two in each of the disability classes, will be selected from the trials at Lake Lanier to compete in the Paracanoe World Championships in Duisburg, Germany. The winners of the World Championships, will then go on to compete in the Paralympic games in Brazil September 7-18, 2016.
General interest in Lake Lanier as a tourism destination grew tremendously following the global exposure of The Games in 1996. Tourism was at an all-time high following the 2003 Junior World Championships held at the park. Lake Lanier Olympic Venue hopes that the Pan Am Championship, along with the Paralympic Team Trials, will boost tourism even more, heralding a new era of development of the park as a recreational center for Lake Lanier and metro Atlanta.
With the two events quickly approaching, Lake Lanier Olympic Venue is undergoing a $1 Million renovation to help bring the facility up to caliber to hold such a prestigious event. The renovations include a full interior makeover of the Olympic Tower, an additional restroom in the tower and two ADA accessible ramps. Beautification improvements are also underway—a new butterfly garden, public art displays and an exhibit of the historical timeline of the park are being added.
Since the ’96 games, grandstands have been added to the park (believe it or not, there were only “floating stands” back in ’96), as well as a plaza. These additions make it possible to host larger sporting events and also make the park more useful for the public by providing a place to host weddings, corporate events, and festivals. Also, expect to see a new name in the coming weeks. Lake Lanier Olympic Venue will soon be known as Lake Lanier Olympic Park, pending board approval.
The Paralympic Team Trials and the Pan American Championship are open and free to the public. Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Atlanta Games with a taste of the Olympics here at home, on the waters of Lake Lanier.
About Lake Lanier Olympic Park | Known as Atlanta’s Hamptons, the Lake Lanier area is an upscale community on the rise forty five minutes northeast of downtown Atlanta. With its location between the big city and the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountain range, Lake Lanier also offers easy access to Appalachian culture and attractions. On the eastern shoreline of Lake Lanier in Hall County, there are 10 full service marinas with year round access to multiple watersports. The crown jewel of Lake Lanier’s watersport venues is Lake Lanier Olympic Park (LLOP), a world-class sporting and special events facility. Over the past 19 years, the LLOP has hosted prestigious international sporting, civic, social and corporate events, including the 1996 Olympic Games.
Lake Lanier will kick off the 20th anniversary of its Olympic Legacy May 19-22, 2016, when the community plays host to the Pan-American Championships for sprint kayak. This event is the last Continental Olympic Qualifier before The Olympics in Rio, bringing together athletes from North, South and Central America for four days of competition.
Lake Lanier Olympic Park boasts one of the best competition venues for flatwater sports world-wide. Hosting world-class competitions as well as local and national athletes and teams, this venue and its ideal racing course with a naturally-flowing straightaway of over 3,000 meters is a highly desirable location for high performance training. The facility also provides recreational opportunities for the region and is a destination point for sports enthusiasts including paddle boarding, fishing, swimming and other watersports.
The boathouse and arena are also available to rent for weddings, festivals, team-building activities, corporate meetings and events. The natural beauty surrounding Lake Lanier Olympic Park is unmatched by similar centers in the country and serves as a keystone in the community’s recreational offerings. Beyond experiencing the thrill of the Pan-American Championships, spectators in the area can also enjoy the attractions, shopping and dining this world class destination has to offer. As the most visited US Army Corps of Engineers lake in the world, Lake Lanier is a natural choice for beaches, boating and other water-based recreational pursuits. The surrounding area, with its Southern and Appalachian heritage boasts a rich and diverse blend of museums, attractions and annual events that help round out the destination as a year round choice for travelers.
Enjoy zip lines and canopy tours, equestrian trails, hiking and biking while taking in the areas’ farm markets and main street shops. Lanier Islands Resort is the primary lodging destination with hotel, villa, lake house and camping accommodations. Here you’ll find a white sand beach, water park with slides and wave pool, a wide variety of dining and entertainment options, as well as many special events held year-round.