For Paris Henken, who became the first female from the College of Charleston to qualify for the Olympics after being named to the U.S. Sailing Team in February, the Aug. 5 opening ceremonies for the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro will be the culmination of years of training and lots of travel.
“This has been an ongoing dream since about junior year of high school and to know that it’s less than (50) days away is unbelievable,” said Henken, who will compete in the women’s 49erFX class. “Helena (Scutt) and I have had some really long, hard days on the water, but so far, it has been going smoothly and haven’t run into any problems.”
Henken, a sophomore from Coronado, Calif., will be the fourth sailor competing at the Rio Games with ties to the College of Charleston (Charleston, SC).
Alumnus Juan Maegli, who was the 2013 College Sailor of the Year, will represent his home country of Guatemala for the third time at the Olympics (2008, ’12 and ’16). Maegli was the flag bearer for Guatemala during the opening ceremony in 2012 before he finished ninth in the Laser Class at the London Games. He finished in the top 40 during his first Games at Beijing in 2008.
Joining Maegli in August and also competing in the Laser Class will be first-time Olympians and current College of Charleston team members Stefano Peschiera (Peru) and Enrique Arathoon (El Salvador).
Earlier this month, those three performed well at the Sailing World Cup Weymouth and Portland in London as Maegli finished seventh, Arathoon eighth and Peschiera 10th.
“Every time I go out on the water I already know I have qualified (for the Olympics),” Arathoon said. ”It’s a dream come true. The pressure is off, and I’m really enjoying my time on the water. I know I will be nervous, but that’s natural.”
Americans Jim Brady (1992 silver medalist in Soling Class) and four-time Olympian John Lovell (1996, 2000, 2004 silver medalist in Tornado Class, and 2008) are the only other College of Charleston sailors that have competed in the Olympics.
Henken will be the second female to sail for the College of Charleston with Olympic experience, as she is expected to return to the Lowcountry for the fall semester after the Summer Games. Deborah Ong competed in the women’s 470 for Singapore at the Beijing Olympics before she enrolled at the College of Charleston and then graduated in 2013.