IN THE SPOTLIGHT | Scott ParSons, United States

IN THE SPOTLIGHT | Scott ParSons, United States

(By Preston Keres -- The Washington Post)   |   Buy Photo
Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Parsons was still in high school when he decided to devote himself to whitewater kayaking. So at 29, he's understandably pleased to see the sport's popularity extend beyond its traditional European base to new corners of the globe.

But success has come with a price. To further kayaking's reach, the International Olympic Committee voted to restrict each country to one boat per class starting with the 2008 Games.

For Parsons, that meant he'd have to edge his longtime training partner, Brett Heyl, for the lone spot in single men's kayak (K-1). Both competed in single kayak at the 2004 Games.

Parsons clinched his second Olympic berth by out-performing Heyl in this season's World Cup events. As a result, he will get another shot at an Olympic medal after finishing sixth in Athens.

A Bethesda resident, Parsons is on leave from his job making prosthetics for returning soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He's the only past Olympian on the U.S. slalom team and the only man who is not a teenager. But experience and patience should be assets on the daunting Beijing course.

-- Liz Clarke

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