Canoe/Kayak

Michal Smolen

In 2011, Smolen won the singles slalom race (K1) at the Olympic team trials, but one thing stood in the way: Smolen was still a Polish citizen. Despite expediting the process, the paperwork to become a U.S. citizen wasn’t complete until six months after the London Olympics. Since then, Smolen has established himself as the top American kayaker, winning the men’s K1 event in the u-23 world championships in 2014, winning gold in the K1 at the 2015 Pan American games and taking bronze in the K1 at the world championships.