OKC Junior Kayaker Sets Sights on Olympic Dream
By Molly Gordon
Originally published in the May/June 2014 issue of Thrive Magazine
A rush of exhilaration and relief sweeps over Oklahoma City’s Bria Cornforth each time she crosses a finish line in her sprint kayak. She knows she has completed another race and is inching closer towards her ultimate goal: the Olympic games.
Cornforth, 14, began kayaking on the Oklahoma River when she was just seven years old and is currently a national champion in her age group.
“My dad read about the spring break Adventure Camps in the newspaper,” Cornforth said. “It was cool because the camps let you try every single thing that goes on in the Boathouse District. After the camps were over they asked if I wanted to join the Junior Canoe/Kayak Team.”
Cornforth loved kayaking the minute she got on the water and it was soon apparent she excelled at it as well. In 2010 Olympic aspirations motivated Cornforth to begin training twice a day, six days a week at the Oklahoma City National High Performance Center, a U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Site for canoe/kayak.
The move to step up her training helped Cornforth achieve her national championship title, as well as medals from the Lake Placid International Regatta, an event that attracts 350 of the best canoe/kayak athletes from Canada, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil and Austrialia to compete against Team USA.
“Bria has shown amazing potential from the day she joined the OKC RIVERSPORT Junior Canoe/Kayak Team,” said Shaun Caven, Oklahoma City National High Performance Center Canoe/Kayak Head Coach. “She has grown into an impressive athlete who dedicates her life to the sport. She is one of the best in the country in her age category and with continued improvement I believe she can reach her long-term goals.”
Cornforth is optimistic about her chances. “The OKC Boathouse District is an excellent place to train because it has world-class facilities and a great river,” Cornforth said. “Shaun is the best coach in the world and I love working closely with all of the coaches on the team. They help me get closer to my ultimate goal, which is to go to the Olympics in either 2020 or 2024.”
A member of the OKC RIVERSPORT Junior Canoe/Kayak Team for nearly seven years, Cornforth has enjoyed the relationships that she’s made through the sport.
“I began online K-12 school a few years ago to dedicate more time to training,” she said. “Through canoe/kayak I’ve found a close-knit group of friends that I wouldn’t have had in public school. I’ve gotten a new family from this, a kayaking family.”
Caven agrees the sense of camaraderie on the team creates a strong bond between members and emphasizes that you don’t have to be an athlete to get involved.
“OKC RIVERSPORT offers great programs for anyone interested in canoe/kayak,” said Caven. “We have programs for ages eight and up, and our Junior Canoe/Kayak Team provides an exciting opportunity for kids ages 11 through 18 to compete on a team.”
Canoe/Kayak lessons are the first step to get involved, or sign your kids up for a summer Adventure Camp. The sport will also be featured at the SandRidge Energy Stars & Stripes River Festival, Saturday, June 28 in the Boathouse District.
To learn more about the Junior Canoe/Kayak Team, visit us online or call (405) 552-4040.