15 March 2024

The battle for national selection for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games is continuing to intensify with Canoe Sprint stars coming together for a training camp in Portugal. 

Leading paddlers from countries including Hungary, Portugal, Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine have been utilising the superb conditions at the Montebelo Aguieira. 

Boat manufacturer Nelo, an International Canoe Federation Gold Partner, is hosting the teams at its training centre. 

With nations yet to decide who will be representing them at Paris 2024, paddlers have been pushing themselves to win over selectors. 

Among the athletes present this week was six-time Olympic champion Danuta Kozak of Hungary who is aiming to compete at her sixth Games. 

Other Olympic medallists and world champions in attendance include Polish pair Karolina Naja and Anna Pulawska and Portugal’s Fernando Pimenta. 

Pimenta, a two-time Olympic medallist, said it was great to see some of the world’s biggest names turning up the heat in training. 

Canoe Sprint training camp Portugal

“This is a very important time of years for us,” said Pimenta. 

“We have the facilities here to train in a great place and with great athletes.  

“I am trying to enjoy every day and push myself to the limit.  

“Sometimes we are tired and we are sick but we need to do our best every day. 

“You see a lot of countries training together here and it is very good for us because we are very competitive and we want to be in the best shape.” 

Tom Liebscher-Lucz, a member of the German teams that captured K4 1000 gold at Rio 2016 and K4 500 gold at Tokyo 2020, was also upping the pace in training along with his teammates. 

“The training camp is very important as it’s the last one before our national qualification in April,” said Liebscher.  

“We are coming here to Portugal when the sun is out and wind is less, so it is one of the best places to paddle and we are really focused on everything like technique, strength and mental health.  

“It’s important on the way to Paris.  

“Firstly, I need to qualify for the national team in April and then the next steps is to qualify for the Olympics.” 

Danuta Kozak training 2024

Andre Santos, Chief Executive of Nelo, said he was delighted to offer a training base for athletes in preparation for Paris 2024.

“This is something we have worked towards for almost 20 years,” said Mr Santos. 

“We want people to be in Portugal to raise the level of sport and show the country to all the other countries. 

“What we have achieved is to create a professional structure that has become the benchmark for other places around the world. 

“We offer a professional service, giving teams from countries that do not own their own facility access to a top-of-the-range facility for their preparations. 

“From a boat development perspective, it is also very important to have the athletes here as we can get instant feedback and get a barometer on what is good and what is not and find out why.”

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Canoe Sprint