The International Canoe Federation’s first talent identification camp for paracanoe athletes has been labelled a tremendous success, with plans for a bigger camp later in the year already announced.

Seven athletes and two coaches from as far afield as Chile, Egypt and India are taking part in the paracanoe camp in Budapest, Hungary, ahead of the first ICF Paracanoe and Canoe Sprint World Cup this week in Poznan, Poland.

The chair of the ICF’s paracanoe committee, John Edwards, said the camp underlines the growth of paracanoe around the world.

“This is our first dedicated paracanoe talent ID camp for the ICF, and Egypt and Colombia are being welcomed at the ICF competition level for the first time,” Mr Edwards said.

“USA, India and Chile are expanding their teams through this project, and we are now preparing for a larger TIP Camp in August at the world championships.”

One of the key objectives of the camp is to increase the number of athletes competing in the women’s VL2 category, which will make its Paralympic debut in Tokyo next year.

Three of the paddlers taking part in Budapest this week are set to be classified, and all seven athletes are expected to compete in the world cup starting Thursday.

The camp has been run by Jean Christophe Gonneaud, who said that after getting over initial translation issues, he has been struck by the dedication and determination of each of the athletes.

“The strong desire of personal improvement of the athletes is inspiring,” he said.

“They all want to do their best and it’s a pleasure as a coach to work in such conditions. Each day the athletes had the opportunity to see other athletes from the Hungarian paracanoe team and sometimes train together, and also meet on the water or during lunch time some of the best international canoe sprint experts.

“They had the chance to share the Duna River everyday with a multitude of young paddlers paddling with a communicative enthusiasm on all kind of boats.”

Athletes from Nigeria and Armenia, who had delays to their visa process, will join the rest of the squad in the world cup in Poznan. It will be the first time athletes from Egypt, Colombia, Nigeria and South Korea compete in a paracanoe world cup.

The focus for those running the TIP camp during the world cup will be to observe how the athletes deal with a competition environment. Time management, conserving energy and the classification system will all be important.

For the athletes the TIP camp has been an eye-opening experience.

“I didn’t know what to expect in Budapest when we practiced 100 metres. I felt like some runs were better than others,” USA’s Kaitlyn Verfuerth said.

“All I can hope is that I can improve on my past times and try my best. I felt like I learned a lot from this camp and I hope to be able to use what I learn next week and when I go home to train.”

For Chile’s Jocelyn Munoz it was all about overcoming physical hurdles.

“I have constant pain in the back, which makes it difficult to maintain the abdominal balance, because I don’t have trunk control so it is difficult to maintain the canoe to the right,” she said.

“I know that with the right training and with more experience I could be a good canoe paddler.”

Colombia’s Jorge Moreno was thrilled just to be at the camp.

“I learnt a lot and improved thanks to the support and collaboration of Jean-Christophe, the leader of this TIP camp,” he said.

“It was like a dream to be in Budapest. I would like to thank the Hungarian Federation, and especially the International Canoe Federation (ICF) which made it possible for me to fulfil this dream to come here and participate in this camp.”

India’s Prachi Yadav and Devidas Mahadev Patil are used to paddling in very hot conditions, on waterways that can be quite environmentally challenging.

Budapest was a big change.

“In this camp I loved paddling in a clean river. I've never paddled when it's so cold but now it's a good experience,” Prachi said.

“I appreciate the practice given by the best coach of the world.”

In india we paddle with a temperature of 45 degrees,” Devidas said.

“Here, even if the weather is cold, its good conditions. I appreciate the water being so clean.”

Paracanoe talent camp Budapest 2019

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