Durango kayaker to compete in Australian Youth Olympics

Friday, Jan. 2, 2009 2:13 AM

An 18-year-old Durango kayaker will represent the United States this month in the annual Australian Youth Olympic Festival.

Niko Peha, a longtime boater with Durango Whitewater, will compete in slalom kayak events at the Australian youth games.

Peha, the son of Maureen Keilty and Dan Peha of Durango, left Durango on New Year's Day to begin the trip Australia.

The competition is scheduled for Jan. 13-17.

"We should have several days of competition," Peha said before leaving the Four Corners.

He said he's excited to compete on the manmade whitewater course that was built for the Sydney Olympics.

"I've seen (pictures) of the course," Peha said. "It was used for the Olympics."

Peha said he's been boating since age 11. And he's been competing for the last four years.

He trains locally with kayak legend John Brennan.

He'll work with U.S. coach Chris Wiegand of Denver on the trip to Australia.

Peha traveled to China last year to compete on a U.S. team directed by Wiegand.

Peha is a senior at Durango High School, scheduled to graduate in the spring.