COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Following the end of the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Canoe Freestyle World Championships, sibling competitors are reflecting on their performance and looking toward the future. Mason Hargrove, 20, and his sister Makinley Kate Hargrove, 16, both competed in the event against a field of the best paddlers in the world.
On Saturday, Makinley Kate earned a world title in the junior women’s kayak surface final, finishing in first place with a score of 251.67. Her brother coached her throughout the event.
“To win the event, it’s just magical, it’s special. It’s something I’ll never forget,” said Makinley Kate on Sunday, after all championship events had ended.
Makinley Kate reported the competition presented by the other girls in her division was stiff, pushing her throughout the event. The young athlete, who qualified for the USA freestyle kayaking team in 2022, is looking forward to where the sport will take her next in the junior women’s division.
Mason’s pride in his sister’s success was evident, as was their strong sibling bond. He said, “It was amazing to be there and be the first person she hugged when she was announced the world champion.”
Despite Mason’s excitement at Makinley Kate’s success, the elite paddler – also a member of team USA for freestyle kayaking since 2022 – did not perform to his expectations on Saturday. According to the Hargroves’ mother, Melissa, although Mason was at the top of his division throughout the competition, he faced some “bad luck” in the semifinals and missed a world title.
“The competition this week was really good,” said Mason, who chose to focus on the highlights of the competition. He continued, “I didn’t paddle my best, but I got to experience a lot of great moments with my little sister.”
Moving forward Mason will focus on coaching Makinley Kate through the rest of her season while he continues to train. He has his sights set on training hard to podium at the next world championship event which will take place in Germany, four years from now.
According to Makinley Kate, the siblings continually push each other to be better athletes.
She said, “Days when he’s not wanting to go out in the water, days when I’m not wanting to go out in the water, we’re both pushing each other to work hard and achieve our dreams.”
The two were grateful for Columbus’ support throughout the competition week, welcoming competitors from all over world, many of which have become the Hargroves’ friends over the years.
Across the competition days, over 200 athletes from 18 different countries vied for titles at the ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships. Columbus is home to the longest urban whitewater rafting rapids in the world, according to the Visit Columbus website.