Kayaker Michal Smolen seeks gold after many trials and tribulations

Wednesday afternoon’s kayak single slalom Olympic final is the day Michal Smolen has been waiting for his whole life.

Born in Krakow, Poland, Michal Smolen’s [pronounced Mee-how] kayak career has been filled with many trials and tribulations, to say the least. 

​As a child, Smolen was scared of the water, but his father and coach, Rafal, helped him get over his fear.

In 2012, after a promising run to qualify for the London Olympics, Smolen heard devastating news when he found out he wouldn’t be able to acquire U.S. citizenship in time to participate in London. 

Now, Smolen, who recently landed a Nike deal, will stop at nothing to land on the podium in pursuit of his Olympic dream.

 

“It’s game time. I’ve done everything in my power to be ready for this day. Now let’s have some fun!!”

Michal Smolen

He was nicknamed “Meesh” by his parents at a very young age. “It means “bear” and I actually have a huge bear tattoo on my arm that I got just because of that,” Smolen told his hometown newspaper, the Gaston Gazette in North Carolina. “A lot of my friends who call me that don’t know what it means.”

The time has come to let out his inner bear. “Meesh” will take to the 242-meter whitewater course on Wednesday afternoon.