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Litchfield paddles to medals

While she wasn’t competing in the actual Olympic games in Beijing, Letty Litchfield of Smartville brought home some medal hardware of her own from the Outrigger Canoe World Sprints Championships at Lake Natoma in Sacramento Aug. 1-9.

She earned two silver and one bronze medal competing in the Senior Master Women’s division (45-and-older) of the international event, which is held every two years in a different country each time.

Nearly 20 countries participated in the ’08 competition including New Zealand, Tahiti, Australia, Canada, American Samoa, France, Italy, Germany, Hawaii and New Caledonia.



“The team that I raced with in the World Sprints that just concluded did not train together,” Litchfield said in a prepared statement. “We trained separately on our one-mans and with different outrigger clubs, and came together for this championship.

“Considering that most other teams at the Worlds trained together for months, we are happy with the outcome. It is always tough to beat New Zealand, Tahiti and Hawaii. They are incredible athletes. We have a great deal of respect for them.”




Litchfield and her six-woman team took second in both the 500- and 1,000-meter races, while her double hull squad (a 12-member team) took the bronze. Her best shot at gold came in the 500-meter event, which saw New Zealand edge the California team by less than three tenths of a second.

Litchfield races all over the world, and has raced in long distance and sprint world championship races in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti, Western Samoa, Hawaii, and throughout the U.S.

She said she has recently begun assisting with, and doing some racing with, disabled paddlers on an adaptive paddling team that is just being formed by a former big wave surfer from Hawaii now living in the Bay Area.

“I have raced with paddlers whose disabilities include paralysis from the waist down and having only one leg,” she said. “They are tough, awesome competitors.

“We are hopeful that the adaptive paddler division will continue to grow, allowing people with all forms of disabling injuries to get on the water and thrive from the benefits of nature and the elements.”

For more information on the Outrigger Canoe World Sprints Championships, visit the Web site http://www.ivf2008usa.info/


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