|Mahalo Nui to Lono Goo and the team at Makai magazine for putting together an amazing feature on Hawaii Canoe and Kayak Team and Kaihe Chong.
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Below is a preview of the feature on Kaihe Chong from Makai Magazine:
A few years ago, while covering the Molokai Relay which includes one-man canoes and surfski's, racing across the Kaiwi channel, a surf ski paddled by a boy, no older than 14 or 15 years old, was up front with the best paddlers in the world.
He was Kaihe Blaze Kaniela Chong, whom his family and friends call "Kai" -- Kaihe is Hawaiian for "always true to the mark "-- making reference to a spear. Watching him paddle, it was he lives by his namesake. His competitive spirit is recognizable as I noted his discipline, which he displayed by seemingly an easy time mastering the sport of kayaking, both in surfski and K-1 kayak.
It was amazing to watch this wonder kid competing with adult men and women- - - and he was up front with the leaders, too! It was truly awesome to watch him as he raced towards the Ala Moana finish line.
Today, the quiet and reserved Kamehameha School senior finished his final year in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu Kayak or K-1, and outrigger canoe paddling season.
Looking towards the future, Kai has committed his every waking hour to the kayak. He excels in both kayaking and outrigger canoe paddling as he begins another season with the Hui Nalu, a club where he is a long-time member. He belongs to the 18-year old crew, and favors the kayak which he trains for with an intense passion by himself and often, with his father.
Kai lives with his dad Dr. Blane Chong, a family and sports medicine physician, also Kai's coach--a surfski and canoe paddler himself, his wife Kaili, and older brother B.J., presently with the Honolulu Police Department. He also has two younger brothers Kawelo and Kanai, and sister Tiani.
The Hawaii Kai teenager's intense training and sef-imposed discipline is focused on the future. He will be traveling to Oklahoma City soon for the U.S. Trials with Hawaii Senior competitors including Pat Dolan, Eric Abbot and Brandon Woods -- who will all be competing for a spot on the U.S. team at the Pan American Games.
Junior members include Kai, B. J. Campbell, and Ryan Dolan who will compete for a spot on the Olympic team at the Pan American Games. The Junior World Championships, and the training camp at the Olympic Training Center will be held this summer at Lake Placid, N. Y.
The top eight Juniors in the nation will qualify. (In November 2007, Kai, B. J. and Ryan were part of an elite group of the top nine juniors in the nation to qualify for a spot at the training center at San Diego, Ca.).
Kaihe is no slouch. His training regimen begins every morning at 4:30 a.m. and he is in the water by 5 a.m. -- the HCKT trains in the Ala Wai Canal. Then, he's off to school. If he is not paddling, he lifts weights, and trains until 6 p.m. And, there's homework, dinner, and off to bed by 9 p.m. -- no time to watch TV. because he's pretty much out "out" by 9 p.m. His routine repeats itself daily week-in and week-out! However, when the surf is good, he'll grab his board and surf! This is the life of a future Olympian!
Blaine Gaison, Kamehameha Schools Athletic Director, indicated that "Kaihe is a good kid and has Olympic potential. In Kai's junior year he finished first in the State's Championship; he qualified and went to the Olympic Training Center last year. However, he injured his shoulder, but, came back halfway through his senior year in kayaking, and not fully-recovered, he still took second in the state!"
The 18-year old graduates this June and will attend the University of Hawaii and follow his father Blaine's footsteps in the medical field, and Kai also wants a business degree, too.
Now as he prepares for high school graduation, he is also preparing for the Olympics as he competes for a place on the Olympic team at the Olympic Training Combine in San Diego. Here's his advice for those who may be want to duplicate what he is doing, "Don't give up, just keep on going, and try your best!"
Kai has a big future in kayaking, and also in the medical profession -- whether in a surf/ski or K-1, and, he has already set his sights on the 2012 Olympics in London!
His goal, “Always true to the mark” Go for it, Kaihe!