The International Canoe Federation will continue to work hard to take more major events around the world, President Thomas Konietzko has told Chinese television.

Mr Konietzko told CGTN the future strength of paddling sports would be determined by building on their global appeal.

“We have to use this popularity to make our Olympic disciplines still more popular, and therefore we need more competitions, especially outside Europe,” Mr Konietzko said.

“Unfortunately most of our big competitions in the past have taken place in Europe. The new ICF leadership, and myself, want to change this situation. For example, we really appreciated the application from Hangzhou to host our ICF Super Cup next year.

“We want to bring more competitions to more continents, and China in Asia with its strength in hosting big competitions is one of the best places to make our sports more popular.”

Mr Konietzko also praised the organisers of the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. In March he inspected the venues which will host next month’s canoe and kayak events.

“I was able to see for myself the breathtaking scenery of Hangzhou and its venues and facilities,” he said.

“I learnt more about the professionalism of the Hangzhou organisers so I’m more than confident that we will experience great and exciting competitions on one of the best venues I have ever seen in the world.

“Human resources are very important to make for athletes a special experience, and I learned from all the organisers that they want from the bottom of their hearts this competition to be a success.”

"We want to bring more competitions to more continents"

Mr Konietzko was asked about the future of dragon boat racing, which will be part of the Asian Games and will also make its debut as an official sport at the 2025 The World Games. He said the attraction of dragon boat was its availability as both a professional and a recreational activity.

Dragon boat racing was a demonstration sport at the Tokyo Olympics, and Mr Konietzko was asked if he could see the sport one day included on the Olympic program.

“It’s not only about high performance sport, its also about recreation. This makes Dragon Boat so unique. Nowhere in our other disciplines can you experience this special atmosphere,” he said.

“There are many people who are working to make dragon boat more popular. It was a milestone to have dragon boat as a demonstration sport in Tokyo, and we attracted some of the IOC members who enjoyed this demonstration event.

“Of course we have to fight together to promote our sport, and to make our sport better, but I have already had talks with Chinese authorities, and I promise that the ICF and Chinese and other Federations will work together to convince the IOC to consider one day dragon boat as an Olympic sport.”

"We have to fight together to promote our sport, and to make our sport better"

He said China has grown in the past decade to be one of the strongest Federations in the ICF, both on and off the water, and praised the professionalism of organisers, coaches and athletes.

“China is standing at the top of all Federations and is among the best in the world. All Asian Federations have made a lot of progress in the past decade, and especially China with its three medals in Tokyo,” he said.

“China is a country of water, and that’s why water sports are very popular, and the pinnacle of all water sport activities is high performance water sport. We have really good athletes both in and out of the boat.

“I can only congratulate the Chinese Canoe Federation for its progress. Not just at the Tokyo Olympics, but the Chinese Federation has proven its strength and become one of our strongest Federations in many of our disciplines.

“All the coaches, all the officials, have done a great job to improve the strength of the Chinese athlete. It’s hard work, and China did hard work.”

Dragon Boat
Canoe Sprint
Canoe Marathon
Canoe Polo
Canoe Slalom
Kayak Cross
Wildwater Canoeing
Canoe Freestyle
Canoe Ocean Racing
Stand Up Paddling