Kara Kohler headed to Paris Olympics

Kara Kohler headed to Paris Olympics

Kara Kohler headed to Paris Olympics
Kara Kohler dominated the single sculls at Olympic trials. (Photo by row2K)

CLAYTON, CA (Apr. 19, 2024) — Kara Kohler is Paris-bound after qualifying for her third United States Olympic rowing team this month at the 2024 U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Team Trials – Rowing in Sarasota, Fla.

In the women’s single sculls, the Clayton woman earned a spot on the American rowing team for the Paris Games by clocking 8:04.01 to finish more than six seconds ahead of Margaret Fellows in the Trials finals.

Kohler, who finished fourth in the single sculls at the 2023 World Rowing Championships, took an early lead in the first 500 meters then extended her advantage to just over four seconds at the halfway point. Kohler continued to increase her lead over the back half of the 2000-meter race to earn her spot in Paris. Fellows finished second, clocking an 8:10.68, while Cicely Madden took third.

“It’s a relief,” Kohler said. “There was a lot of stress leading up to that race because you’ve got to be on for that one race. It’s a dream come true to go to the Olympics again. I’m pumped.”


The Clayton Valley High and Cal Berkeley graduate won all three of her races at the Trials by comfortable margins. This was in stark contrast to her results at the USRowing Winter Speed Order in February.

Kohler says she had a “non-rowing elbow injury” that kept her out of the water for a large part of December and January. As one of the rowers who had already qualified for the Trials, she then spent three more weeks out of the water at indoor altitude training before the Winter Speed competition.

Fellows was the fastest single sculler in the Winter Speed Order A final while Kohler was 10 seconds slower in the B final.

Kohler made her first Olympic team in 2012, winning a bronze medal as part of the women’s quadruple sculls. She switched to the single following the disappointment of not being selected for a boat at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Switches to single sculls

In 2017 the Clayton athlete began competing in single sculls where her selection to US international teams would be predicated on her results rather than other measurements USRowing might use to pick spots on pair, quad and eight’s boats.

Kohler has dominated the single sculls in America since, including being named USRowing 2019 Female Athlete of the Year.

She won the Tokyo Olympic Trials but was a disappointing ninth at the Games, which were held without spectators in 2021 after the Pandemic. Problems early in her races derailed her medal hopes in Tokyo.

Kohler visited her Clayton home last week before returning to New Jersey to the US Rowing Training Center with the rest of the Olympic rowing team. Also, among those training there is her boyfriend Kevin Cardno, a member of the men’s quadruple sculls.

Her next competition is at World Cup II in Switzerland May 24-26. That competition will be preceded by a training camp in Italy, where the American team will also train immediately before the Olympics. Kohler explains the July camp will enable the athletes to fully acclimate to the time change before going to Paris.

Rowing at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in the Vaires-sur-Marne Nautical Stadium will take place July 27-Aug. 3. The single sculls medal races are on Aug. 3. Kohler has never been to France so the venue will be new to her.

She told The Pioneer how the sound at her London Olympics races was “deafening” and she hasn’t felt anything like that since after not competing in Rio and having no spectators at Tokyo. She’s anticipating an atmosphere much closer to London this summer.

Jay Bedecarré
Jay Bedecarré
Sports and Schools Editor at The Concord Clayton Pioneer | sports@pioneerpublishers.com | Website

Jay Bedecarré is a long-time resident and writer in Concord and Clayton. He began his newspaper writing career while still a senior at Mt. Diablo High School and he has been part of The Pioneer since its inception in 2003. Jay also operates Bay Area Festivals, presenting events around the San Francisco Bay Area including Bay Area KidFest annually in Downtown Concord.