Biggest ever world championships kicks off Tokyo build-up

This week’s ICF canoe sprint and paracanoe world championships in Szeged, Hungary, will be the biggest ever contested, as a record number of athletes fight for the right to earn their country a place at next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

A capacity crowd is expected for both Saturday and Sunday, with tickets close to selling out within days of going on sale. Canoeing is a national obsession in Hungary, and Szeged is considered by many to be the spiritual home of canoe sprint.

More and more athletes are coming to canoeing, and paracanoe in particular, from other sports. Couple that with a very successful ICF Talent Identification Program (TIP), and you have the platform for more than 1000 athletes to compete in Szeged this week.

“This is a tremendous vote of confidence in our sport at a time when the market is very competitive, and when there are more sporting options than ever for athletes,” ICF secretary general, Simon Toulson, said.

“It’s particularly pleasing to see athletes from new canoeing countries competing in Szeged this week. Canoe sprint and paracanoe were already global, but now we are reaching into corners of the planet where the sport is really taking hold.”

Almost 100 countries are also represented, and more television networks than ever before are beaming live pictures of the world championships and Olympic qualifiers around the world.

Nineteen countries are showing the world championships live, the highlights will be seen in more than 150 countries, and the Olympic Channel and Planet Canoe will stream to all corners of the globe.

“This week is high pressure for all the athletes, and we are excited that more countries than ever before are taking live pictures of our event,” Toulson said.

“I am sure new viewers will quickly fall in love with the excitement and drama of our sport, and if it encourages new athletes to give canoeing a go, it will be a great outcome for us and for sport in general.

“The response of the Hungarian fans will ensure this week will be a world championships to remember, and give the athletes a taste of the atmosphere they can expect at Tokyo next year.”

Athletes are competing for the right to earn their countries a quota for next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games. For many athletes, they won’t learn if they will get the chance to compete in Tokyo until next year.

Szeged venue 2019

Canoe Sprint
Paracanoe
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