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The US-Senegal k4 Contingent


Suz and Mickle and I showed up to practice this morning and the boathouse wasn't even open. Everyone else is gone for the weekend, or was paddling at a different time. To be perfectly honest, our motivation level wasn't the highest it’s ever been, so we sat in the sun for a little while to complain about it.

Enter Assane, wearing his characteristic huge smile, and babbling away about how beautiful it was outside and how good training is. (“It’s good, very good.”) Assane Fall is from Senegal; he has trained here with us for almost 2 years now, but he will be racing for Senegal in the 2008 Olympics. What I love about Assane is that he always has a smile on his face, and he is very vocal about how he feels (which is euphoric, usually). With his mixed French and broken English combined with the cultural influence of the men's kayak team, he also happens to be hilarious.

Assane, pictured here with me and my little sister Anna

Assane had never been in a k4 before, and Suz had the bright idea to take him out for the workout this morning. We put him in 3rd seat (with me in 4th) and got on the water, with him grinning and yelling to the Slovaks on the dock, "It's my first time! It's my first time!"

It was actually a great practice; he's a talented athlete and a good k1 paddler, so he had no problem jumping in the boat with us. The positive energy was overwhelming. He kept turning around after the pieces and asking me "It's good?? Wow! Fast!" And then he’d burst out laughing and smack the water with his paddle and let out an excited “Woohoo!!” His bellowing laughter and huge smile are contagious, and I immediately felt bad about not feeling like paddling this morning. I really think we should do this more often.