by Cliff Mehrtens

“Bam Bam” is going for gold.

Caroline Queen, a sophomore with the flashy nickname at Davidson College, will compete in the Summer Olympic Games as a slalom kayaker on the U.S. Olympic team. Her event – the women’s slalom – will be held Sunday, July 29, through Aug. 2.

Queen, 20, is a Maryland native who moved to Davidson two years ago to attend college and live near the U.S. National Whitewater Training Center in Charlotte, where she trained.

She’s been in London training since July 4.

Queen sat out the spring semester at Davidson to concentrate on training. She plays on a club field hockey team and dabbles in intramural basketball as part of her cross-training activities. When she wasn’t training at the U.S. Whitewater Training Center, she usually paddled around Lake Norman.

Queen began paddling slalom at age 9. She started competing at 10, when she began training with Martin Nevaril, the U.S. Junior Team coach. By age 14, Queen attended her first U.S. National team trials. A year later, she became the youngest woman (15) to make the national team.

Slalom kayaking is similar to slalom skiing in the Winter Olympics, where paddlers navigate gates and are penalized if they miss one or run into it. There are 21 heats in the women’s kayak event. Each competitor will begin by making two attempts at the course, and use their best time. The final two paddlers race for the gold medal.