Rio Canoe Slalom legacy provides hope for locals future
The Rio 2016 Olympic Canoe Slalom venue that was at the heart of the Deodoro Complex has swiftly moved into legacy mode inspiring the local population with introduction sessions as the venue played host to the 2016 Pan American and South American Canoe Slalom Championships.
The International Canoe Federation (ICF) with the Pan American Canoe Federation (COPAC) and the Brazilian Canoe Confederation (CBCA) ran the championships alongside a promotional campaign aimed at activating the local population in a bid to continue the excitement from the Games.
Enthusiastic about the legacy opportunities the venue will provide, João Tomasini Schwertner, the CBCA president, said, “Our partnership with the Sport Ministry and Rio’s Town Hall will transform this place and provide us an chance to develop local talent from Brazil. We also plan to make the Rio Channel a well structured alternative training camp for teams around the world to enjoy.”
With many of the continents top paddlers in town both of these ambitions are being quickly realised; and with free rafting available for the locals following the professional action the competition also provided a superb introduction for aspiring Olympians to get on the water and try the sport for the first time.
“I loved it! I was a little anxious in the descent and thought that the boat was going to turn upside down, but afterwards I liked a lot. We are proud to practice a sport that was in the Olympics,” said, 13-year-old Rodrigo Camargo.
Situated in the West Zone of the Rio de Janeiro the artificial slalom course in Deodoro is close to the cities largest youth population with this Rio’s administration quoting a figure of 1.5 million inhabitants under the age of 18 living within 10 districts surrounding the venue.
“Placing our sport within touching distance of large populations is a clear strategy of the ICF. The venue in Rio provides another excellent Olympic legacy for our sport,” said Jose Perurena, ICF president and IOC member.
"We can see a clear correlation between investment in facilities and success on the international stage, an example of this is the success of the British team who have a permanent base at the London Olympic venue in Lee valley and won two medals at this years Games.”
"Our sport continues to make the most of the opportunities of being part of the Olympic movement," added Perurena.
With actions underway to develop a canoe school, and with such a large local population on its door step, the venue is certainly ideally placed to help the next wave of Brazilian paddlers on their journey.
“It was nice, a great experience, it was awesome,” said resident Carlos Eduardo Pereira de Souza.
Talking about the possibility of a canoe school, the 17-year-old continued, “I think it is great since we don’t get anything here. We’ve got a few problems here and if we do not have a sport to practice people can get involved in bad things and may never get out of them. Today I’ll go home and tell everybody to come here, it’s really great.”
Backing up Perurena's commitment to Olympic legacy the ICF has also allocated the venue the 2018 ICF Canoe Slalom Senior World Championships and then the 2019 ICF Canoe Slalom Junior and U23 World Championships.