Allen seeks Paralympic berth
KINGSFORD – Kingsford High School graduate Kelly Allen is once again returning to the world stage as a representative of Team USA, this time at the International Canoe Federation’s World Cup in Duisburg, Germany.
This will be Allen’s second consecutive year on the national team as she secured her spot in the women’s 200-meter event earlier in the summer at team trials in Lake Placid, New York.
Allen’s ultimate goal is to be part of the first ever Paralympic Kayaking Team in 2016, the first year the event will be part of the games.
She was born with Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency, and is missing her left femur, patella, and fibula along with a fully developed hip socket.
As a result, she gets around wearing a prosthesis. Despite this Allen participated in Kingsford’s tennis and ski teams along with many other recreational sports growing up.
Allen is now living and training full time in San Marcos, Texas, with her coach, former Olympian Ben Kvanli. The two also run the non-profit Veterans Adventure, which focuses on introducing the sport of white water kayaking to returning wounded military men and women.
“Kayaking is one of the most adaptable sports there is,”Kvanli said. “Kelly helps to make these new wounded warriors see that. When they see how she is adapting and being successful at it, it gives them reassurance that yes, this is possible, and yes, they can do it.”
Earlier this summer, Allen competed in the 200-meter sprint race in Lake Placid. There she took second place to four-time world champion Christine Gaurdner from Canada, missing the gold by tenths of a second.
However, she still managed to set two U.S. national records.
“We don’t know what her potential is,” Kvanli said. “We just know that every race she goes to she doesn’t just win, she sets a new standard for herself and the competition.”
Allen leaves to represent the USA at the World Cup at the end of the month. A donation site has been set up to help with the cost of traveling and competition fees.
Those interested in contributing can visit igg.me/at/kellyallenparakayak or www.oneandonehalf.com.