If you look to this year’s ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships as a guide to who might win gold at next year’s Paris Olympics, good luck!

Only two reigning world champions over Olympic distances were able to successfully defend their titles at Duisburg. It just so happens both of those – New Zealand’s Lisa Carrington in the K1 500 and China’s Xu Shixiao and Sun Mengya in the women’s C2 500 – are also reigning Olympic champions who haven’t been beaten for a long time.

The remaining Olympic distances seem wide open if Duisburg is anything to go by. The women’s C1 200, K2 500, K4 500 and men’s C1 1000, C2 500 and K2 500 all crowned first-time world champions this year.

Portugal’s Fernando Pimenta returned to the top of the podium in the men’s K1 1000, and the German men’s K4 500 were back as number one after losing their crown to Spain 12 months earlier.

The first time world champions in 2023 included Cuba’s Yarisleidis Cirilo in the women’s C1 200. USA’s reigning world and Olympic champion, Nevin Harrison, finished outside the placings in the women’s C1 200, but still earned her country a quota.

In the men’s C1 1000 Czech Martin Fuksa finally broke through for his first world title, consigning Romania’s 2022 title holder, Catalin Chirila, to the silver. The Tokyo Olympic champion, Brazil’s Isaquias Queiroz, was well below his best form but managed to earn a Paris quota.

One of the most popular results in Duisburg came in the men’s C2 500, which returns to the Olympic program in Paris, when 2012 Olympic gold medalist Peter Kretschmer teamed up with Tim Hecker to give Germany a popular hometown triumph. Defending world champions Cayetano Garcia and Pablo Martinez finished third.

In the men’s K2 500, which replaces the K2 1000 on the Olympic program in Paris, Portugal’s Joao Ribeiro and Messias Baptista won their first ever world crown. The reigning K2 1000 Olympic champions, Thomas Green and Jean van der Westhuyzen, finished fourth.

Three-time Olympic medalist Emma Jorgensen teamed up with Frederikke Matthiesen to win Denmark the women’s K2 500. Jorgensen has a silver from the Rio Olympics and two bronze from Tokyo, and also picked up silver behind Carrington in the K1 500 in Duisburg.

The big surprise in the women’s K2 was the failure of the Tokyo Olympic champions, New Zealand, and Olympic bronze medalist, Hungary, to earn Paris Olympic quotas. Both countries will get another chance at their Continental championships.

But New Zealand did get revenge in the women’s K4 500, winning its first ever world title in the event. In a major surprise, Hungary and Germany, who have dominated K4 at an Olympic level since 1988, finished seventh and eighth. But both nations earned K4 quotas for Paris.

The 2023 ICF canoe sprint season featured two senior world cups, and both the senior and junior and U23 world championships. Szeged in Hungary, considered to be the spiritual home for canoe sprint, hosted the opening world cup, and two weeks later Poland hosted many of the world’s best in Poznan.

The junior and U23 world championships were held in the picturesque Italian town of Auronzo, and once again showcased the best young sprint paddlers from around the planet.

Off the water the ICF strived to improve gender equity in officials and coaches. There is still much work to do in these areas, but the ICF has set a target of implementing all the goals outlined in its Fit For Future document.

Those guidelines also include making our sprint events more sustainable, with a smaller carbon footprint and embracing innovative ways to bring the sport to a wider global audience.

The ICF development program continues to tap into new communities, providing coaching and equipment to aspiring paddlers all over the world. The program has led to more athletes from more countries taking part in ICF events.

A more detailed analysis of our environmental and development programs will be published in the weeks to come.

Portugal Ribeiro Baptista Duisburg 2023

Canoe Sprint
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