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Nevin Harrison, bidding to be first U.S. woman to win gold, makes Olympic canoe team

Nevin Harrison

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 22: Sprint canoeist Nevin Harrison poses for a portrait during the Team USA Tokyo 2020 Olympic shoot on November 22, 2019 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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Nevin Harrison took the next step toward a possible historic medal by becoming the first U.S. Olympic qualifier in canoeing.

Harrison, an 18-year-old from Seattle, won the Olympic trials 200m sprint on Friday in Sarasota, Florida, to clinch a spot in Tokyo. This summer, she could become the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic canoe or kayak title.

Harrison became the 86th athlete to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team across all sports. A full list is here.

Her biggest victory to date came two years ago, becoming the first American to earn a world championships sprint canoe medal, which turned out to be gold.

Harrison picked up canoe after hip dysplasia forced her to stop sprinting on the track in 2016.

Women’s kayak has been on the Olympic program since 1948, but women’s canoe debuts at the Tokyo Games. Women’s events were added and men’s events removed to make it equal with eight events per gender in canoe and kayak.

Only one woman younger than Harrison has won an Olympic kayak title -- legendary German Birgit Fischer-Schmidt, whom some consider the greatest female Olympian in history across all sports with 12 medals and eight golds.

In Tokyo, Harrison could face Canadian six-time 200m world champion Laurence Vincent-Lapointe, who missed the 2019 Worlds after testing positive for a banned substance. She was cleared of wrongdoing last year.

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