The first day of canoe sprint medals at the 2024 Paris Olympics will feature the return of the men’s K2 500, an American defending her history-making gold from Tokyo, and the long-term European dominance of the women’s K2 500 once again under threat.

American teenager Nevin Harrison created history in Tokyo, winning the first ever women’s C1 200, and ending a canoe sprint gold medal drought for her country extending back 32 years.

Even more impressively, Harrison won her country’s first women’s canoe sprint gold medal ever. It all came just six years after a hip injury threatened to end Harrison’s athletic career.

Harrison burst into gold medal calculation by winning the women’s C1 200 world title and Olympic qualifier in Szeged in 2019. The form guide was turned upside down on the eve of the championships when Canadian six-time world champion, Laurence Vincent Lapointe, returned a positive doping result.

Vincent-Lapointe was eventually cleared to compete in Tokyo, but her disrupted preparation meant she would always struggle to take the title. The Canadian finished second, just ahead of Ukraine’s Liudmyla Luzan.

In Tokyo New Zealand ended a European domination of the women’s K2 500 that had been running for as long as the event had been in the Olympics. In every one of the 15 women’s K2 500 races contested since 1960 to 2016, a team from Europe had ended on top of the podium.

In fact only three other countries from outside Europe had ever won a women’s K2 500 Olympic medal – USA, Canada and Australia.

But no crew from Europe could match the incredible power and determination of multiple Olympic champion Lisa Carrington and Caitlin Regal. The win came just 90 minutes earlier Carrington had become the women’s K1 200 Olympic champion.

Regal has since retired, leaving Carrington with the task of finding a new partner to help defend New Zealand’s history-making gold from Tokyo.

Silver in Japan went to Poland’s Karolina Naja and Anna Pulawska, continuing an incredible record in the 200 for Naja, after she won bronze in both London and Rio with different partners.

The men’s K2 500 returns to the Olympic program in Paris for the first time since 2008, when Spain’s Saul Craviotto began his incredible Olympic career with gold alongside Carlos Perez. Craviotto is expected to compete again in Paris, this time in the men’s K4, which will be his fifth Olympic Games.

It will be the first Olympic Games without the men’s K2 1000, which had been part of the program since the start. Australia’s Tom Green and Jean van der Westhuyzen were the shock gold medalists in Tokyo, having not raced together at an international event because of Covid and their country’s strict travel guidelines.

Green and Westhuyzen are one of the few combinations that have switched back to the 500.

The men’s and women’s K2 500 and the women’s C1 200 gold medals will all be contested one year from today at the Paris Olympics.

And don’t forget, the ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Championships, and the Paris 2024 qualifiers, will be held in Duisburg from August 23-27.

Australia K2 1000 Green van der Westhuyzen Tokyo Olympics

Canoe Sprint