In Duisburg this year Great Britain swept four of the six gold medals on offer in women’s events at the ICF Paracanoe World Championships, which included four of the five events that will be contested in Paris next year.

The question is can Great Britain, which has dominated women’s paracanoe ever since its inception, and certainly at a Paralympic level since its debut in Rio in 2016. On the available evidence from Duisburg, the world is closing in, but it might not be quick enough to disrupt the status quo in less than 12 months time.

In Paris gender parity will return to the paracanoe program, with women’s VL3 added to the program. In Duisburg Hope Gordon won the title for Great Britain, but her British teammate and three-time world champion, Charlotte Henshaw, sat out the race in a strategic move to increase GB’s chances of extra quotas.

In men’s racing the gold medals in Duisburg were shared by Australia (three), Hungary, Brazil and Ukraine. Australia’s Curtis McGrath, the most successful paracanoe athlete in Paralympic history, won gold in the men’s KL2, but suffered a surprise defeat in the VL3, where he finished third.

In Tokyo McGrath became the first athlete to win two gold at a single Games, triumphing in both the KL2 and VL3. His defeat at the hands of Ukraine’s Vladysav Yepifanov in the VL3 in Duisburg throws the race for Paris gold wide open.

Great Britain’s Jack Eyers, despite a disrupted preparation, finished second behind Yepifanov and will be even stronger in Paris. In the men’s KL2 it was Ukraine’s Mykola Syniuk and Italy’s Federico Mancarella who chased McGrath home in Germany.

It was McGrath’s teammate and housemate Dylan Littlehales who took the gold in the men’s KL3 in Duisburg, his first world title. Great Britain’s Jonathan Young took silver, and Brahim Guendouz made history for Algeria and Africa by finishing third, securing his continent’s for world championship medal and a Paralympic quota.

Hungary’s Peter Pal Kiss will be aiming for back-to-back Paralympic gold in the men’s KL1, and showed he is in good form with a powerful world championship win. France’s Remy Boulle and Brazil’s Luis Cardoso da Silva filled the minor placings in Duisburg.

In the men’s VL2 Brazil’s Fernando Rufino and Igor Tofalini have been trading places at recent outings, and in Duisburg it was Rufino who took the title. He also won gold in the event at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Bronze in Duisburg went to American Steven Haxton, making a long overdue return to top-level paracanoe racing after his silver medal behind Rufino in Japan.

In women’s KL1 Ukraine’s Maryna Mazhula and Germany’s Edina Muller have been involved in an intense battle ever since the German caused something of a boilover at the Tokyo Paralympics. But in Duisburg Mazhula was back to her best, blowing everyone out of the water.

Muller had to settle for fourth, with Chile’s Katherinne Wollermann taking silver and Canada’s Brianna Hennessy.

Charlotte Henshaw will be aiming to make history in Paris by becoming the first women to win two paracanoe gold medals at a single Paralympics. Henshaw won the KL2 in Tokyo, and is the reigning world champion, and has also dominated the new paracanoe event, the VL3.

In Duisburg the minor placings in the VL3 behind Gordon were filled by Canada’s Erica Scarff and Brazil’s Mari Christina Santilli.

In Duisburg teammate and 2016 gold medalist Emma Wiggs took silver, her fifth consecutive minor placing at a world championship medal behind Henshaw, while Hungarian Katalin Varga was third.

Wiggs will be aiming for her third Paralympic gold in Paris, having already won the KL2 in Rio and the VL2 in Tokyo. She hasn’t been beaten in the VL2 since 2018. Canada’s Hennessy took silver and Australia’s Susan Seipel bronze at the Duisburg world titles.

In non-Paralympic events, Italy’s Viktoryia Pistis Shablova won the women’s VL1 in Duisburg, and Australia’s Benjamin Sainsbury the men’s VL1.

The 2024 Paralympic Games will run from August 28 to September 8, with the paracanoe competition running over the final three days of the Games.

Hungary Peter Kiss Duisburg 2023