The Concord-Clayton area will have a representative competing in the Summer Olympics for the fourth Olympiad since 2004 when Clayton’s Kara Kohler takes to the water near central Tokyo for her first race in the women’s single sculls on July 23.
Kohler won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics in the women’s quad boat for America while her fellow Claytonian Kristian Ipsen won bronze the same day in synchronized 3-meter diving for the USA. Ipsen also represented the county four years later at the Rio Olympics, placing fifth in the 3m men’s springboard.
Starting the string of local Summer Olympians was Erin Dobratz a bronze medalist in synchronized swimming at Athens in 2004. Kohler and Dobratz graduated from Clayton Valley High. Dobratz went to Stanford, as did De La Salle High grad Ipsen, while Kohler went to Cal where she first took up rowing.
Concord resident Mariya Koroleva was half of the American duo in synchronized swimming at London and Rio.
Ireland’s single sculls reigning World Champion Sanita Puspure will be one to watch along with New Zealand’s Emma Twigg, Austria’s Magdalena Lobnig and Kohler in Tokyo. Kohler finished behind Lobnig and ahead of Puspure at June’s World Rowing Cup II in Switzerland.
Should Kohler proceed as expected in the Tokyo Olympics single sculls her schedule will have her rowing July 23 in heats, July 26 in the quarterfinals, July 28 semi-finals and July 30 in the final medal race.
Kohler wasn’t selected by USRowing for the Rio Olympic team and the next year she switched to single sculls. The Clayton rower finished fourth and then third at the World Championships in 2018 and 2019, respectively. She did not compete again in international rowing until World Rowing Cup II last month. She won the Olympic Trails in February with a convincing showing over a large field of scullers.
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.