Lake Lanier Olympic Park to Host Largest World Gathering of Athletes in the Area since the Centennial Olympic Games | Sports Destination Management

Lake Lanier Olympic Park to Host Largest World Gathering of Athletes in the Area since the Centennial Olympic Games

May 09, 2018
International Canoe Federation Dragon Boat World Championships coming, September 13-16

Lake Lanier Olympic Park (LLOP) will host the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Dragon Boat World Championships September 13-16. 1,500 athletes from over 25 countries--including the United States, Russia, Hungary, Poland, China, Japan, Ukraine and Italy--will gather to compete in traditional canoes, adorned with dragon's heads and tails, while also celebrating the cultural heritage of this deeply symbolic Asian heritage event. Team USA will have multiple teams participating and this competition will be the largest world gathering of athletes in the area since the Centennial Olympic Games in 1996. Around 10,000 spectators are expected and the estimated economic impact is predicted to be five million dollars. 

Gainesville-Hall '96 and Lake Lanier Olympic Park have formed a Local Organizing Committee and have begun making preparations from logistics, marketing and course design to once again, "Welcome the World to Lake Lanier."

Moscow hosted the 2016 World Championships where Gainesville's own Jim O'Dell, chairman of and junior coach for Team USA, held the honor of receiving the flag, handing over the reins of the championship to Lake Lanier Olympic Park. "It really struck me when the ICF flag was handed to me in closing ceremonies at Worlds in Moscow last year; Lanier is hosting the world again...only this time, in a much larger fashion than we've hosted before!"

LLOP submitted a bid in 2014 to host the event and was selected for a variety of reasons, including having the longest strength of flat water in the United States. Due to the natural barriers, the Park's water is known throughout the world as the most fair for athletes. The ICF has never hosted this event in North America. LLOP boasts one of the best competition venues for flat water 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 water sports. The boathouse and Plaza are also available to rent for weddings, festivals, team-building activities, corporate meetings and events.

In early September 2017, Gene Hanratty, senior consultant to the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, presented Gainesville-Hall '96 with the first financial contribution supporting the event, by pre-purchasing one of the Championship Dragon Boats that will be used during the four-day competition.

Sponsorship and volunteer opportunities are available. Contact Robyn Lynch at for more information.

About Lake Lanier Olympic Park| Known as Atlanta's Hamptons, the Lake Lanier area is an upscale community on the rise, 45 minutes northeast of downtown Atlanta. With its location between the big city and the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, 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 water sport 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 celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Olympic Legacy May 19-22, 2016, when the community played host to the Pan-American Championships for sprint canoe/kayak. 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 Championships, spectators in the area can also enjoy the attractions, shopping and dining this world-class destination has to offer.

As the most visited U.S. 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. For more information:

(Click to Expand)