Paracanoe gives opportunities for paddlers with physical disabilities to participate and compete at club, national and international level. Working on the development of the sport for over four years, the Canoeing For All Committee, has improved and expanded the sport manifold and we see more and more athletes competing and enjoying Paracanoe around the world.
Paracanoe at the World Championships
In the 2009 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Halifax, Canada, Paracanoe events were received with overwhelming support from the crowd. Races included the Women’s and Men’s 200m for athletes in the Legs Trunks and Arms category, the K2 200m for athletes in the Trunks and Arms or Arms only categories, and the C2 200m for athletes in any category.
The goals of the Paracanoe programme are mainly of becoming an official sport in the 2016 Paralympics. In order to achieve this, the main challenge has been to increase participation at the Canoe Sprint World Championships to 24 nations from three continents. This has been smashed with entries for the 2010 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships from 63 athletes from 28 National Federations from all five continents.
Canoeing For All
Chair of the ICF's Canoeing For All Committee, John Edwards spoke after the 2009 event; “I am very pleased with the competition. I think it is sometimes difficult for those of us who are able-bodied to fully understand the impact of this event on paddlers with a disability. They are frequently treated as 'second class' citizens. The ICF's programme as exemplified by this World Championship competition is aimed at removing this attitude and respecting all paddlers as equal.”
About the athletes, John Edwards said they “… were all very inspiring. They all treat our sport very seriously and are a great addition to our World Championship programme. Their collective spirit was very positive and they all look forward to the future and more events.”
He goes on “…the paddlers with a disability taught all of us a valuable lesson: Canoe sport, like all sport in the past, has always focused on the outward presentation of success and physical beauty and perfection. However, the Paracanoe athletes have taught all of us a more important message of sport. What we truly celebrate in our World Championships is the human spirit and its desire for improvement. The body is but the outward container of the human spirit which far excels what can be seen by the eye. The spirit of the Paracanoe athletes in overcoming their personal challenges is an example to us all.”