A Short History
The ICF’s first World Championships was held in 1938 in Vaxholm, Sweden, just outside the city of Stockholm. In all there were three Men’s Canoe events (the C1, C2, C4 all at 1000m) and seven Men’s Kayak events (K1 1000m, 10,000m and 10,000m folding; K2 1000m, 10,000m and 10,000m folding; and the K4 1000m.) Women raced in two events, the K1 and K2 600m. Germany and Sweden dominated the medals table, Sweden won no less than five of the available golds while Germany took home four. Unfortunately, World War II broke out a year later and the Canoe Sprint World Championships took a 10-year break. In 1948, the Canoeing world reconvened in London, England for the next Canoe Sprint World Championships.
One year later, in 1949, Canoe Slalom saw its first World Championship in Geneva, Switzerland. The Men’s C1 and C2 each had two events: the team and individual races, while the Men’s and Women’s K1 races were held in folding Kayaks in both team and individual races. From then on they were held every odd year until 2002 after which they have been an annual event, except for Olympic years. Canoe Sprint, on the other hand has been held every year (except an Olympic year) since 1970.
Host Organising Committees
Host Organising Committees bid to hold a World Championship four years in advance. With careful planning and close collaboration and communication with ICF Headquarters, World Championships are held over four days with finals over the last two days (a Saturday and Sunday). Over the years, the programmes have varied and moved with the times. More recent additions in Canoe Sprint and Canoe Slalom include the Relay as a demonstration event and the Women’s Canoe. As well, the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships encompasses the Paracanoe events. The programme for Canoe Slalom has not changed so much through the years; perhaps the biggest change is the appearance of Women’s Canoe.
Junior ICF Canoe Sprint and Canoe Slalom World Championships are very other year, they two alternate, Canoe Sprint in odd years, Canoe Slalom every even year. From 2013, the two Junior World Championships will both be held every odd year. This will avoid any clashes with the Olympic Games.
With regard to the ICF’s non-Olympic disciplines, Canoe Marathon has a yearly World Championships while Wildwater Canoeing enjoys a World Championship every two years. These competitions can last for up to a week and include Juniors and an U23 class. Canoe Polo and Canoe Freestyle alternate between World Cup year and a World Champ year. Canoe Polo World Championships are every even year, Canoe Freestyle World Championships are held every odd year. For Ocean Racing (Surfski), World Championships may occur in the near future. Keep watching this space!