- 2019 NHK Cup: 1st
- 2019 Oceania Championships: 1st
- 2017 Oceania Championships: 1st
- 2016 World Cup No. 5: 9th
- 2016 World Cup No. 4: 10th
- 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion
- 2015 World Championships: Bronze
- 2015 Pan American Games: Gold
- 2015 U.S. National Team Trials: 1st in K1 and 3rd in C2
- 2014 World Cup No. 3: Bronze
- 2014 U-23 World Champion
- 2012 U.S. National Champion
- 2012 U-23 World Championships: 5th
- 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials: 2nd
- 2010 Junior World Championships: 4th
Michal Smolen’s Olympic dreams started early, as both of his parents were part of the Polish National Team, his father for kayaking and his mother for team handball, but fell just short of the Games. He was born and raised in Krakow, Poland where he lived until he was 10 years old before moving to the United States.
While Michal was growing up, he desperately wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps in his love for kayaking, unfortunately Michal had a fear of the water. In an attempt to get over his fear, he took up swimming, as he felt he was more in control. As he became more comfortable, he started training as a competitive swimmer. Training and discipline became an everyday routine and he slowly fell out of love with swimming and decided to give kayaking another try. This time his fear had vanished and he became completely captivated by becoming the best kayaker he could be. This is when Michal was faced with his next challenge.
One morning Michal woke up in the hospital and was told he had endured a seizure in his sleep the evening before. Soon after this incident he was diagnosed with epilepsy. Over the next few years, Michal faced many new challenges with his health conditions, but was thankfully able to continue competing. Three years later, at the age of 16, Michal was racing in his first Junior World Championships in Foix, France. He came up just short of the podium, but this motivated him to work even harder and showed him that he was in contention with the best of the best.
Michal was becoming competitive with the best kayakers in the country and won the 2011 U.S. National Championships. However, Michal’s US Citizenship had not yet been passed, therefore he was unable to race in 2011 and in turn unable to go out for the 2012 Olympic Team. Again, this did not discourage Michal’s Olympic dream, as he officially became an American citizen in 2013 and began competing with the U.S. National team.
He represented Team USA in the 2016 Olympic Games in the single kayak, and has only continued to grow as an athlete since, competing in international competitions in preparation for Tokyo 2021.
Facebook: Michal Smolen Instagram: @instapaddler Twitter: @michalsmolen