Ryan Kawika Dolan
It’s only natural that Ryan Kawika Dolan would feel at home on the water, you could say he grew up on it. Ryan was born in Kailua, Hawaii - a small beach community where his house was within a short walking distance from the shoreline. Ryan’s childhood was shaped by his family’s beach lifestyle. Ryan surfed, fished and swam at a young age. Ryan’s grandfather was heavily involved in Lanikai Canoe Club and introduced him to Outrigger canoe paddling at the age of ten. Ryan’s love of the ocean only grew the older he became and as he paddled for Lanikai Canoe Club. He credits Mauli Aspelund and his grandfather Willis Rich as giving him the drive for excellence in canoe paddling. At the age of sixteen after his older brother Patrick Dolan excelled in outrigger canoe paddling, Ryan began to do OC-1 paddling. Ryan’s motivation and obvious potential was noticed by the Foti Brothers and they offered him a sponsorship with their canoes as a way of supporting Ryan. John Foti in particular became a mentor to Ryan. Under his guidance, Ryan not only became the top paddler among the 18-and-under group but was also competitive with adult men in local ocean races, placing in the top 10, all while still a teenager. After a slight hesitation, Ryan decided to try kayaking during his senior year at Maryknoll High School and joined HCKT (Hawaii Canoe & Kayak Team). Ryan was immediately winning the surfski races for his school which led to him being invited to the US Junior National Team training camp at the US Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California. Living and training at the US Olympic Training Center was a pivotal time in Ryan’s kayaking career. The training center experience and environment cultivated the already present drive for excellence in Ryan and began his Olympic dreams. Ryan became the national champion in every race he participated in that year as well as winning the gold and bronze medals at the Pan American Championships, and a silver medal at the Australian Youth Olympics. Perhaps most notable is the silver medal he won at the 2008 Junior World Test Event in Moscow, Russia. The following year, Ryan became a resident at the US National Training Center as well as becoming a member of the US National Kayak Team. That same year, Ryan was ranked fourth overall in the United Sates and attended his first World Championships in Halifax, Canada and numerous World Cup Races throughout Europe. 2010 was a breakthrough year for Ryan because he won the selection trials of the new Olympic distance of 200 meters for K-1 (single) races as well as becoming the national champion for both the K-1 200 meters and the K-1 500 meters. In the 2010 Pan American Championships Ryan won two bronze medals in those same events. In 2011, Ryan was ranked second in the K-1 200 meters and first in the K-2 (double) 200 meters at the national selection trials. Next Ryan achieved his biggest accomplishment yet by winning a bronze medal at the 2011 Pan American Games which qualified the United States for the 2012 Olympic Games in the K-1 200 meter race.