Alana Nichols and Kelly Allen will become the first athletes to represent the United States in paracanoe, earning berths for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the 2016 ICF Paracanoe World Championships on Thursday in Duisberg, Germany. The sport of paracanoe will make its Paralympic debut in Rio in September.
Nichols qualified for her fifth Paralympic Games in a third sport by placing eighth in the women’s KL2 200-meter final. Her time of 1:00.647 was 6.956 seconds behind the winning time of Emma Wiggs of Great Britain, who crossed in 53.691 seconds. A two-time member of the U.S. Paralympic wheelchair basketball team, Nichols won gold in Beijing in 2008 and placed fourth in London in 2012. She also won medals at the past two Paralympic Winter Games: golds in downhill and giant slalom, silver in super-G and bronze in super combined in Vancouver in 2010, and a silver in downhill in Sochi two years ago. Her wins in Vancouver made her the first U.S. Paralympian to win gold at both a summer and winter Games. Nichols was nominated for an ESPY Award three consecutive years (2010-12).
Allen has qualified for her first Paralympic Games after crossing over from skiing into kayaking in 2012. She finished eighth in women’s KL3 K1 200-meter in 54.885, 3.639 seconds off the winning pace set of 51.246 seconds, set by Anne Dickins of Great Britain. Only a month after starting full-time training, she had claimed the title of national champion in women’s LTA K1, winning a spot on the national team. She placed fourth at her first world championship and followed that with a seventh-place finish a year later.
Ann Yoshida won gold in the non-Paralympic VL1 200-meter, while Anja Pierce won the bronze medal in the women’s non-Paralympic VL3 K1 200-meter event. The 2015 world champion in the event, she now has collected four worlds medals in the past four years. She won a silver in 2012 and a bronze in 2013. She has placed in the top four at the past five world championships.