Ashley Nee

Olympic Trials 2: OKC Style

Olympic Trials is done! I qualified! 

I think it is going to take me a long time to process this one. It took hundreds of people's help to get me to the top of the podium. 

The races were really tight. I knew coming off of a win in Charlotte meant I most likely had to place 2nd or better because I held the tie-breaking point from qualifying the berth at the Pan Am Games in July. That was within my abilities but I was still really really nervous. Anything can happen when you are paddling whitewater and Oklahoma is notoriously windy. My strategy was to play it safe on the first run of each of the two days, get the result I needed and then race for the win on my second runs.

                                   Coach Silvan and I! 
I was really happy that my first runs went to plan and I laid down two solid runs. My second run on day 1 was going really well until I heard this thunk. I was through gate 15 when I heard it, I was so confused that I even looked back to see what happened. I didn't see anything but when I watched the video it was there. One of the unluckiest touches, the last centimeter or two of my stern popped up as I slammed my bow down into the biggest hole on the course and caught the pole. Without the touch, I would have taken the win but that is slalom. I was really happy to have taken 2nd place to Dana Mann with Anna Maria Ifaraguerri in an impressive come back on the last run to take 3rd.  Dana and I had really close runs on nearly every run in both of the Olympic Trials. She put the pressure on and it was a great race to be a part of. 

I am so thankful to have had my family out in OKC. They made a huge difference, it wouldn't have felt so special without them. Also, no chance I would have qualified without my coach Silvan Poberaj. He has worked so hard over the last decade to help me develop my racing skills, so many cold days by the river, so many disappointments but I really think he never lost faith in me. He is a really really great guy!

 Nees, McEwans, Boyntons and Satrapes family photo! I think my dad can really rock a cowboy hat!

I would also like to thank Lauren Bixby, chief judge for both Olympic Trials. She hosted a great race, whenever she is chief judge I think all of the athletes can take a big sigh of relief because we know we are in good hand. Both trials were clean and fair races, what more could we ask for. 

After striving for this goal for 3 quadrenniums it's tough to believe that it is has come true. I really gave everyday of training my best and left it all out there on the water. Third time's the charm!  

Then I headed home for five days before heading to Rio. The timing couldn't be more perfect. During those five days at home, I got to meet my brand new niece, Daisy McEwan! 

                                         We are in love!

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