Nine times the men’s kayak slalom has been contested at the Olympic Games, and each time there has been a different winner. Paris could well see the sport's first two-time gold medalist.

Only four athletes have won more than one Olympic medal; Italian Pierpaolo Ferrazzi, who won gold in 1992 and bronze in 2000, reigning Games champion Jiri Prskavec from the Czech Republic, who won bronze in 2016 before taking the gold in Tokyo, Germany’s Hannes Aigner, bronze medalist in both 2012 and 2020, and Frenchman Fabien Lefevre, a silver in 2008 and a bronze in 2004.

Such is the depth and spread of talent in men’s K1. Since Rio there have been five different world champions from the five world titles contested.

In the modern era Prskavec has been the man to catch, winning the world K1 title in 2019 before taking the Olympic gold. He would have been Olympic champion in Rio if a two second penalty hadn’t dropped him to third. In Tokyo he finished more than three seconds faster than the next best paddler.

This year Prskavec has won two of the three world cup gold medals. Twice the man standing next to him on the podium has been Czech teammate, Vit Prindis, the reigning world champion, a nine-time world cup winner – but who tragically has never been to the Olympics.

Under the current Olympic selection criteria, only one athlete can represent the Czech Republic in men’s K1 in Paris. The same heartbreak which awaits one of the world’s best paddlers from the Czech Republic, also awaits an unlucky paddler from France, Germany, Spain and many more.

It is a cutthroat competition. In 2019, the reigning Rio Olympic champion from Great Britain, Joe Clarke, lost out in team selection to teammate, Bradley Forbes-Cryans. In 2012 Hannes Aigner defeated his teammate and reigning Olympic champion Alexander Grimm for the quota, while Frenchman Etienne Daille denied 2008 silver medalist Fabien Lefevre the chance to compete for a third Games medal.

German paddlers won four of the first six K1 Olympic gold medals on offer. Sjegbert Horn won in 1972, Oliver Fix took the title in 1996, Thomas Schmidt topped the podium in Sydney in 2000, and then Alexander Grimm in 2008 brought home his country’s fourth gold.

Germany is not only the most successful gold medal nation, it also tops the table with the most medals overall, with seven.

Italy has two gold – Pierpaolo Ferrazzi in 1992, and Daniele Molmenti in 2012. The other golds have gone to France (Benoit Peschier in 2004), Great Britain (Clarke in 2016) and the Czech Republic (Prskavec in 2020).

The men’s K1 slalom final will be held one year from today.

Canoe Slalom
#ICFslalom #OneYearToGo