Canoe Sprint events are held on calm water over 200m, 500m, 1000m and 5000m. Teams or individuals in either a Kayak (K) or Canoe (C) race over the set distance with the winning boat being the first to cross the finish line.
In a Kayak, the paddler is seated and uses a double-bladed paddle pulling the blade through the water on alternate sides to propel the boat forward.
In Canoe events, the paddle has a single-blade and the paddler uses a more upright position by kneeling on one knee with the other leg forward and foot flat on the floor inside the boat; this creates a stable position and allows the paddler to power the boat forward by placing the paddle in the water in front of the boat and pulling the paddle down their preferred side (Top Image).
What do K1 and C4 signify?
In competition the number of paddlers within a boat is indicated by a figure besides the type of boat; K1 and C1 signifies an individual Kayak or Canoe race, K2 and C2 pairs, and K4 and C4 quartets.
How are lanes decided?
Races are split into nine lanes with lane selection at random in the initial heats. Following the heats lane selection is then based on qualification time: 5 being the fastest to qualify, then 6, 4, 3, 2, 7, 8, 1 and 9.
Canoe sprint has been the traditional form of racing and is the oldest discipline under the control of the International Canoe Federation (ICF).
The Scottish barrister, John MacGregor is credited with popularising canoeing as a sport in Europe and the United States. He founded the British Royal Canoe Club (RCC) on the 25th July 1866.
MacGrgor then went on to organise the first recognised canoeing competition 1869.
Transatlantic competition soon commenced with the New York Canoe Club being founded in 1871.
The first women’s competition was organised in Russia, and by the 1890s canoe sport was popular and had created a large following, most prominent in Europe.
Under the auspices of the Internationale Repräsentantenschaft Kanusport (IRK), which was formed in January 1924 in Copenhagen, the first European Championships was held on the 19th August 1933 in Prague.
Following the approval International Olympic Committee on the 16th May 1934, Canoe Sprint became an Olympic discipline and debuted at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.
The modern International Canoe Federation (ICF) was established in 1946.
The 1948 London Olympic Games saw the introduction of the Women’s K1 500m category.
The 2010 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships were, perhaps, the most advancing Championships in modern history with the introduction of Women’s C1 200m, an exhibition Women’s C2 500m race and the inclusion of seven Paracanoe events.
The 200m-sprint was introduced in the 2012 London Olympic Games for the K1 men and women and C1 men.
Sprint’s Olympic Programme has varied a great deal over the years and has changed and adapted in order to improve its overall standing and to follow current trends and boat technological advances.
The programme for the 2012 London Olympic Games consisted of 12 events, eight for men and four for women.
The most successful Olympic competitor is Birgit Fischer (GER), who in her 24-year Olympic career won eight Gold and four Silver Olympic medals.
Notably Fischer was both the youngest and oldest competitor to win Olympic Canoeing Gold. In 1980, at the Moscow Games she won the K1 500m as an 18-year-old debutant; she then finished her career at 42 with Gold in the K4 500m at the 2004 Athens Games.
Fischer also won 38 World Championship medals: 28 Gold, six Silver and four Bronze.