Six countries are set to make their paracanoe Paralympics debut following confirmation of the final quota allocations for this year’s Tokyo Games.

With 100 days to go to the start of this year’s Paralympics, the ICF can confirm Russia, Belarus, India, Kazakhstan, Portugal and Uzbekistan are first-time countries in a list of 28 nations set to compete in Japan.

There were 26 countries competing when paracanoe made its first appearance at a Paralympics in Rio 

There have been 90 quotas issued for Tokyo, an increase from 60 when paracanoe made its Paralympic debut in Rio in 2016. There will be three new events in Japan, with two va’a races for men and one va’a for women.

Great Britain was the most successful nation in Rio with five medals, and will have the biggest team in Tokyo after qualifying eight boats. Russia will have seven boats on its Paralympic debut, the same as Brazil, while Hungary and host nation Japan will have six each.

“With 100 days to go the excitement is really building ahead of this year’s Tokyo Paralympics,” ICF paracanoe committee chairman, John Edwards, said.

“We have just completed a very successful and very exciting final qualifying event in Hungary, and the excitement on the faces of those athletes who were able to secure quotas for Tokyo really brought home how important these Games are.”

“Paracanoe athletes like everyone else have really struggled during the covid pandemic, so to now finally have a light at the end of the tunnel has lifted a lot of spirits. And to see new countries ready to experience competition on the world stage is a great thrill for our sport.”

Eleonora de Paolis qualified a boat for Italy in the women’s KL1 on Saturday. The sense of relief was palpable as she sat in her boat at the dock, contemplating what she had achieved after a challenging 12 months.

“Now I can finally say I’m going to Tokyo,” de Paolis said.

“I want to cry, but I prefer I do it in my room or with my family and friends. The past year has been difficult, the lockdown in Italy was for several months so I could not get in the boat very much.

“But now it is all worth it.”

David Phillipson is set to compete at this fourth Paralympics, but his first in paracanoe, after not only securing a Tokyo quota on Saturday but winning a race-off against British teammate Nicholas Beighton for team selection.

“This is the biggest achievement of my life,” Phillipson said.

“I’ve been to three Games playing tennis, and I never won a medal, and I believe I can win a medal in this sport. So to make it now, to get that spot, I’m chuffed to bits now.”

The final list of which countries have qualified to compete at the Tokyo Paralympics, and in which events, can be found here.

Japan Yoshimi Kaji paracanoe Szeged 2021