The International Canoe Federation’s development camp in Hungary and Poland gave African Canoe Sprint paddlers the perfect preparation for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Paddlers from the African nations of Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia and a refugee athlete came together for three weeks as they received crucial advice in the build-up to next month’s Games.

The ICF Talent Identification Programme (TIP ) development camp, which was supported by Olympic Solidarity through the National Olympic Committees invited, started in Szeged, Hungary on May 8 and finished in Poznan, Poland on May 27.

It was held alongside the opening two ICF Canoe Sprint World Cups of the season in Szeged, Hungary and Poznan, Poland where paddlers got the chance to make their mark on the international stage.

Tunisia’s Ghailene Khattali was among those to benefit from the camp as he steps up his preparations for the Olympics.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Khattali.

Manuel Antonio Benilson Sanda Angola canoe sprint Poznan 2024

“The hotel in Poznan was very close to where we were training and racing which was great.

“We became like a family with the team and the coaches.

“In Poznan, we had 10 days of training and then the race, so we had more time to develop things.

“We were lucky to have advice from a nutritionist from the Polish national football team who corrected many things to do with our nutrition.

“I have been in the TIP programme since 2017 and each time it gets better and better.

“I feel great going into the Olympics.

“I am proud that I made it and now I have got nothing to lose - I am going to go for it.”

Angola’s Manuel Antonio and Benilson Sanda, Egypt’s Samaa Ahmed, Morocco’s Achraf Elaidi, Nigeria’s Isyaka Muhammed Ibrahim and Beauty Akinaere Otuedo and Ayomide Powei Bello, Senegal’s Combe Seck and refugee athlete Saman Soltani also starred in Szeged and Poznan.

Beauty Akinaere Otuedo Nigeria canoe sprint Poznan 2024

Bello added: “The development camp was great as I really improved my techniques and my performance.

“It has really built me up and given me a lot of courage and confidence to compete in Paris.

“I received a lot of encouragement from the coaches saying that you can control your mind and tell yourself you can do it, do not give up because an Olympian never gives up.”

ICF Vice President Cecilia Farias said the development camp in Szeged and Poznan was a great success.

“It is essential to equip African paddlers that lack the facilities in their home country with everything they need to prepare for major competitions, “ said Dr Farias.

“These athletes have earned the right to compete at the Olympic Games and this camp has been crucial to their development.

“They will continue to receive support when they arrive in Paris as the ICF will hold a special Olympic TIP camp for the selected African paddlers.

“It is also important to emphasis that all the ICF’s sustainable development activities must respect the gender equality concept as we aim to improve the opportunities for women in our sport.”

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Canoe Sprint