LONDON, U.K. -- Sunday was a big day on the water for several Charlotte Olympians, but especially for one in a canoe.
Casey Eichfeld is excited to be in London. He says, “…it’s unbelievable.”
He competed in Beijing four years ago, and this year he’s in London. But he’s not paddling down the River Thames; he prefers faster waters and says he’s ready.
Eichfeld says, “I’m here for the gold medal. I’m absolutely here for the gold.”
Casey’s dream of paddling to the Olympics began at a young age.
He says, “I had a little Halloween costume, it was a little cardboard canoe that said 2004 Olympics on the side of it."
Five years ago, Casey moved from Pennsylvania to Charlotte and made the Whitewater Center his training ground.
“It's been a great place to live. We have great weather conditions almost all year round. It's not like Pennsylvania where we have four feet of snow through the winter.”
His coach, Rafal Smolen, also lives in Charlotte and is one of the coaches of the U.S. team.
“Casey has made tremendous progress over the last 3, 4 years since last Olympics, and I put him in the international field, really high,” said Smolen. “I think his chances to be in the final and to be fighting for the medal are pretty strong,” he continued.
Casey came up short in Beijing, but four years later in London, he’s more focused and hungrier than ever.
"The only thing you can really control in a competition is yourself,” he says.
To get in the right mindset, he’s enlisted the help of a Charlotte area “neurology coach” to keep his eye on the prize and away from distractions.
"He's been really coaching me on how to maintain my focus and I think that's one of the reasons I've had a huge jump," Casey says.
As he navigates his way to a lifelong dream, Casey knows the Olympics are more than just a medal.
Sunday, Casey came up short in his Olympic quest. He was only two spots away from moving on.