Clermont has enjoyed a reputation as a prime spot for athletes training for national competitions for a long time. More than 20 track standouts who live or train in Clermont are competing in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and countless others use the hills and waterways in south Lake County to prepare themselves for national and international triathlons. That number likely will grow in the coming years, since Clermont was picked recently as the site for USA Canoe/Kayak’s 2017 Sprint National Championship. The competition, which will be hosted by the Central Florida Sports Commission, Lake County Economic Development and Tourism, the city of Clermont and South Florida Canoe Kayak Club, will be held on Aug. 2-5 at Waterfront Park on Lake Minneola. “We are honored and thrilled to be the host city of this prestigious competition,” said Darren Gray, Clermont city manager. “We look forward to welcoming the athletes, coaches and fans with open arms. We celebrate the championship spirit and look forward to making next year’s championships memorable for all involved.” Canoe Sprint has been a medal sport in the Olympics for men since 1936. Women will get their chance to compete for Olympic medals in canoe events beginning with the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. In Rio, men compete in canoe events at 200 and 1,000 meters, while men and women race in kayak events at distances ranging from 200 to 1,000 meters. Racers in canoe events kneel in their boats, while kayakers sit. Competitors in both types of boats race down a straight course with flatwater. It is different from Canoe Slalom, which feature decked canoes or kayaks racing through a series of downstream and upstream gates in whitewater. National and international competitions, excluding the Olympics, are often broken down into age groups. Several cities, in addition to Clermont, were vying to host next year’s championships. Officials visited the potential host venues and evaluated each one. This will the first time the event has been held in Florida. The 2016 national championships were held in Oklahoma City. Other locations for past national finals include Gainesville, Georgia in 2014 and Chula Vista, California in 2015. Oklahoma City also hosted the event in 2013 and Seattle was host city in 2012. Lake Minneola is home to the Clermont Boathouse and has been a location for national rowing and triathlon competitions. Local and national officials believe the even will attract more than 1,000 competitors, coaches and spectators to the area. “USA Canoe/Kayak is excited to bring the (2017 national championships) to Clermont,” said USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint High Performance Director. “We are looking forward to working with the South Florida Canoe/Kayak Club — the event manager — to make this national regatta a success for all the athletes, club and the entire Florida paddle sport community.” Despite its abundance of waterways, Lake County is a relative newcomer to the sports of canoeing, kayaking and rowing. The Lake County Rowing Association, which is based at the Clermont Boathouse on Lake Minneola, was born in 2011 and has worked to promote the sport through numerous competitions and Learn-To-Row programs. The LCRA will host an Open House from 9 a.m. until noon on Aug. 27 at the Clermont Boathouse, 1050 Lake Minneola Dr. USA Canoe/Kayak is a member of the United States Olympic Committee and is the national governing body for Canoe Sprint, Canoe Slalom and the Paralympic sport of Paracanoe. It is also a member of the International Canoe Federation and the Pan AmercicanCanoe Federation.