- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) - Officials at East Tennessee State University say the school has been designated as an official U.S. Olympic training site for canoeing and kayaking.

Administration and athletic officials told the Johnson City Press (http://bit.ly/Oss6Cx) that means the national slalom team members will visit the Johnson City campus at least twice this year for strength and conditioning training.

Former Olympian Meg Stone, who is the director of the Olympic training site at ETSU, says new opportunities are opening for the college with the expansion of its national athletic program.

“This partnership with U.S. Canoe/Kayak, which is the national governing body of this sport, has allowed new doors to open,” Stone said at a press conference Monday to promote the designation. “It makes ‘What if? opportunities,’ as President Noland often calls them, possible.”

The newspaper reports that while the whitewater slalom team will remain based in Charlotte, N.C., members will travel to Johnson City where sports science professionals will administer testing and conditioning.

Brad DeWeese, an assistant professor of exercise and sports sciences, will lead training for the athletes. DeWeese, who trained nine athletes for the Sochi games, says the latest research in athletic training will be applied.

“It’s a very big step for ETSU and the team,” he said. “Hopefully we can nail down some medals this year.”

Casey Eichfeld, who competed in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics in canoe events, said he’s excited about the opportunity to take advantage of the college’s knowledgeable staff.

“It’s good to have the technical experience we need to further our training,” he said. “I think it’s going to work out well and make us more competitive for the upcoming competitions.”

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Information from: Johnson City Press, http://www.johnsoncitypress.com