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Brett Heyl

Kayaker

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What's the best thing about having the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte? Having an Olympic kayaker such as 2004 Olympian and 2008 Olympic hopeful Brett Heyl residing in our very own city. That hope is looking up for Heyl because at the Olympic Team Trials, he finished first, putting him one step closer to Beijing.

Heyl, who is originally from Vermont, has developed a NASCAR mentality when it comes to his race. "If you're not first, you're last." Good thing he finished first in the trials! Heyl's final qualifying race is July 5-6 in Augsburg, Germany.

He's an Olympian multitasker. When he's not busy competing in the most elite games in the world, Heyl is also a sports photographer. And at the age of 17, Heyl got home from the Olympic Trials just in time to graduate high school.

"I am very superstitious," says Heyl. "When kayaking, the objective is to be fast and clean. So I feel I developed this thing where I have to be clean to be clean." Meaning, he practices good personal hygiene in addition to his training.

He also started listening to Britney Spears to hype him up for a race, and now out of superstition, he's stuck with her. "Historically, I've raced really well whenever I hear a Britney Spears song, but it started before she was Britney, like 10 years ago."

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