Canoe sprint pits athletes against one another over 200m,
500m (kayak only) and 1000m distances, in either one person, two person or four
person (kayak only) crafts. There are two boat classifications at Olympic
level, with events held for canoe and kayak.
Classification is termed by the boat type first (either canoe
or kayak) which is represented as a letter with the numeral following,
indicating the total number of competitors in each boat.
Here’s a handy reference:
C1 – Canoe craft,
one person. C1 events include; 200m and 1000m events
K1 – Kayak craft,
one person. K1 events include; 200m, 500m (women’s only) and 1000m (men’s only)
K2 – Kayak craft,
two person. K2 events include; 200m (men’s only), 500m (women’s only) and 1000m
K4 – Kayak craft,
four person. K4 events include; 500m (women’s only) and 1000m (men’s only)
The sport is all about explosive power tempered by
technique. Whilst it’s a race for the line, athletes must find a steady stroke
rate, with a controlled technique in order to gain and maintain speed.
The first step to being an arm-chair expert is knowing the
difference between a canoe and a kayak. Whilst there are many variances, the
two most basic apply to the way in which the craft is propelled and the manner
in which the athlete, positions themselves in the boat.
In canoe – an athlete uses a single blade paddle. The
athlete kneels on one knee, giving them a distinct and different appearance
than that of a kayaker during competition.
Kayakers alternatively, use a double bladed paddle, which is
placed in the water, on either side of the craft, in the motion of paddling. As
opposed to canoe, kayakers remain in a seated position during competition.
Canoe Sprint first appeared at Olympic level as a
demonstration event at the 1924 Paris Games. As the sport grew, it entered the
Olympic roster in its own right at the 1936 Berlin Games.
Historically, European nations have dominated Olympic
competition, with Germany leading the way, having won 40 gold, 29 silver and 26
bronze medals to date.
Australia will be represented by 13 athletes in Canoe Sprint
in Rio. This includes, eight male kayakers, three female kayakers and two male
Australia are the reigning Olympic men’s K4 1000m champions,
and it is in this distance that Australia’s best medal opportunities will again
be represented in, with strong crews in both the K2 and K4 events.
Western Australia will be represented by three athletes,
with London Olympian Steve Bird returning to contest the men’s K1 200m, whilst
debutant Daniel Bowker will race the K2 200m. Canoe athlete Ferenc Szekszardi
rounds out the Western Australian contingent, with the 36 year-old set to
compete in the men’s C2 1000m.
Since first competing in Olympic Canoe Sprint at the
Melbourne 1956 Games, Australia has managed three gold, five silver and 10
bronze. Lisa Russ was the most recent Olympic medallist for the state, winning
bronze at 2008 Beijing Games, as a member of the women’s K4 500m.
To follow WA’s Canoe Sprint athletes in Rio, view their bios
below, including information on when they are in action in Brazil.