Nearly one thousand athletes have taken over Regina’s Wascana Lake as part of this week’s Canoe Kayak Sprint National Championship, including Sophia Jensen.

Jensen, one of the sport’s top athletes in the country, has her goal set on joining Team Canada in Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Games, the first Olympics to feature women’s canoe events.

“I am really pushing towards the Olympics,” Jensen said. “It is my main goal, it has been since I was a little kid and it would mean so much to me to be up there in Tokyo with Team Canada for the first time with women’s canoe.”

“Canada was the leading nation in the world advocating for over 30 years to have it included so we’re really proud of that and we’re also obviously proud of our stars who will be there to compete,” said Ian Mortimer, the director of development with Canoe Kayak Canada.

The 17-year-old is currently based out of Quebec and is originally from Edmonton – but she has a family and racing connection to the site of this year’s Canadian national competition.

“My dad grew up here, he was actually racing for the Wascana Canoe Club when he was living here, so I guess that’s where the canoe kayak blood comes from,” Jensen said with a laugh.

Her dad, Olaf, is on the shorelines of Wascana Lake cheering on and watching his daughter race through the same waters he once did.

“The course is amazing now,” Olaf told CTV News. “Because when I was racing here it was kind of like a slough. It was a shallow, shallow lake.”

Olaf says he’s not only proud of his daughter for her success on the water, but with women’s canoe events finally being added to the Summer Games.

“I think like most people in this sport, it’s been long overdue, it’s been a men’s sport since 1924 so I have no idea why women weren’t included.”

As for what drives Sophia to race?

“I love just being in the zone, and I love just working hard and being focused and putting all my effort in and feeling fit and strong,” Sophia said.

This is the fourth time Regina has hosted the championship in its 120-year history.

Heats and finals races will be happening into the weekend at Wascana Lake.