26 Avril 2024

A group of paddlers are planning to take a 400-kilometre journey down the River Seine during the Paris 2024 Olympics in memory of Emerich Rath who kayaked the same route 100 years ago. 

Rath was an incredible sporting all-rounder, competing in sports including athletics, boxing, canoeing, ice hockey and field hockey, speed skating, wrestling, football, rugby, swimming, ski jumping, mountaineering and Alpine skiing. 

The Czech-born athlete represented Austria at two Olympic Games, participating in the marathon at both London 1908 and Stockholm 1912. 

In 1924, Rath was personally congratulated by Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, after completing an amazing solo journey in his kayak. 

Rath paddled down the River Seine for 360km in support of the Olympic Games and the promotion of canoeing that was introduced as a demonstration sport at Paris 1924. 

This story has captivated a canoe club in Czechia that is now preparing to replicate Rath’s fantastic feat during Paris 2024. 

SK Vltava Český Krumlov Chairman Tomáš Palouda is poised to be part of a group of paddlers that will travel down the River Seine. 

“When we read about Emirech Rath’s journey, we thought this is fantastic and it happened exactly 100 years ago in Paris, so let’s do this,” said Mr Palouda. 

Tomáš Palouda canoeing River Seine Paris 2024

“As we have started to learn more about Emirech Rath, we found out that he is a great person but is not globally famous. 

“We want to try to put him in people’s minds as I think his life and his work were amazing and we want to commemorate what he did for our sport.” 

The group plan to set off from Czechia to France by car on July 26 – the day of the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics. 

They are then aiming to take to the water on July 27 in Vaurois located in the French region of Burgundy-Franche-Comté where they will begin their challenge. 

Sleeping in campsites along the route, the Czech paddlers are hoping to complete the journey to Paris on August 6. 

“We were looking for the place where Emirech Rath started his journey 100 years ago,” said Mr Palouda.  

Emerich Rath canoeing River Seine Paris 1924

“We didn’t find it but we found where it will be possible to do canoeing on the river as we will need 30 centimetres in water level. 

“When we were calculating the route, Vaurois was approximately 400 km from Paris.  

“We think that somewhere near this place was where Emirech Rath started.  

“There is a small church and a little bridge there, the place looks amazing, so we think it will be the perfect place for us to start. 

“We want to reach Paris in 10 days, so we will need to paddle 40km every day. 

“By the second week of the Games, we expect to have brought not only ourselves to Paris by canoe but also perhaps a spark of the Olympic idea or a true reminder of Emerich Rath’s sporting and moral achievements. 

“If anyone wants to join us, they can do. 

“It would be an honour for us to bring, even if only an imaginary symbol of canoeing, to Paris by water.”

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