The Netherlands earned its first women’s canoe sprint Olympic quota for more than 30 years, while Poland and two crews representing neutral athletes also picked up tickets to Paris on the opening day of the European Olympic qualifiers in Hungary on Wednesday.

1988 was the last time there was a Dutch women competing at an Olympics, but on Wednesday Selma Konijn and Ruth Vorsselman ended the 32-year-drought by storming to victory in the women’s K2 500 in Szeged.

Konijn and Vorsselman triumphed after an epic struggle against the neutral crew of Svetlana Chernigovskaya and Anastasiia Dolgova.

“It’s been such a long time so it seems a little bit unreal to be going there,” Vorsselman said.

“We knew if we did a really good race, it would be possible, so we had to believe in it. But it was also a bit scary.”

“I did believe in it, but it was also scary to say, because it is so unreal,” Konijn said.

Poland fell agonisingly short of earning a men’s K4 quota at last year’s world championships, but on Wednesday two of the members of that crew guaranteed the country will have at least two athletes competing in the kayak in Paris.

Jakub Stepun and Przemyslaw Korsak took victory in the men’s K2 500, finishing ahead of the neutral team of Uladzislau Kravets and Dzimitry Natynchyk.

“The main word in this competition is believe,” Stepun said.

“We thought we could do it here, and our coach believed in us. And now we are going to Paris, to the Olympic Games.”

Two crews representing the neutral athletes also earned Olympic quotas. Alexey Korovashkov and Ivan Shtyl, both 2012 Olympians, won the men’s C2 500, while Anhelina Bardanouskaya and Volha Klimava won the women’s C2 500.

European Olympic qualifiers will continue on Thursday in the men’s K1 and C1 1000, and the women’s K1 500 and C1 200. The ICF Paracanoe World Championships will also get underway.

Pics by Bence Vekassy

Full coverage of Thursday's European Olympic qualifiers can be viewed on the ICF’s Premium YouTube channel. There will be coverage all week from the Olympic qualifiers, the 2024 ICF Paracanoe World Championships and Paralympic qualifiers, and the ICF Sprint World Cup.

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You can find all the event details, including schedules and start lists, on our official event webpages.

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Canoe Sprint