Simon Bruty for SI

ATHLETE: Michal Smolen CATEGORY: On the Water SUBCATEGORY: Canoe/Kayak DESKTOP_ID: 5021496421001 MOBILE_ID: 5021642548001

July 25, 2014

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.

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