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Whitewater's whiz kid: 17-year-old Olympian Evy Leibfarth trains in Charlotte

Bryson City native making her first Olympic appearance in Tokyo

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Don't forget, Evy Leibfarth is still just 17 years old.

"I'm so excited to compete at the games," she said, "but also the clothes for me, super excited."

She's excited about her Team USA, Olympics gear, and her patented red, white and blue fingernails that she paints for competitions.

"I'm looking forward to it," Leibfarth said. "I think I have some special ones planned for the games."

But make no mistake, on that river Evy Leibfarth is whiz kid on the whitewater.

She absolutely nails her slalom runs in canoe and kayak.

"In the canoe you're on your knees and you have the one paddle blade and it's a lot harder to balance," she said. "In the kayak you're sitting down and you have two paddle blades."

Though she's trained full time at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte the past few years, Leibfarth is from Bryson City, where she grew up paddling on the beautiful Nantahala River with her parents.

"Going fast," she said. "I loved going fast. I'd be yelling, faster, faster!"

She was a fast learner. 

Under her father, Lee's tutelage as coach, and mother Jean, she rose through the worldwide ranks. 

This April she qualified for the games in Charlotte at the Whitewater Center

Like the elite in her sport, she learned to be one with the water.

"If I close my eyes through a rapid I could make it through fine," she said. "Because I'm so used to feeling those little movements on the water and how they affect my boat."

And she's really feeling the water just fine right now. 

Just a few weeks ago she won the Junior World Championship in kayak. 

"I sobbed at the finish," Leibfarth said. "I just had all these emotions. It kind of reminds me I've been training really hard for this. And if I can put down a good run I know that I can be one of the best. It's this great feeling going in to the Olympics."

Proudly ready to wear her red, white and blue. From head to toe, and her fingernails too.

"I'm looking forward to everything, mostly the experience," she said. "It's going to be a lot different than a normal Olympics would be. But I've never been to an Olympics so this is going to be my normal. I'm looking forward to going there, soaking up the experience."

Women's Kayak slalom heats begin Sunday at 9:30 a.m., ET on USA Network.

RELATED: North Carolina teenager qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

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