The three longest surviving races on the Olympic canoe sprint program will all be decided in Paris in one year from today.

The men’s K1 and C1 1000, and the women’s K1 500, will all be decided on August 10, 2024, with all the defending champions from Tokyo expected to once again be competing.

The men’s C1 1000 has been at every Olympics since canoe sprint made its first official Games appearance in 1936. In Berlin Frank Amyot won gold for Canada. At every Olympics since the gold went to a European paddler – until Tokyo.

At the 2020 Olympics it was Brazil’s Isaquias Queiroz dos Santos, the reigning world champion, who took the gold, going one better than the silver he won behind his hero, German Sebastian Brendel, in Rio in 2016.

Dos Santos had made history in front of his home crowd in 2016, becoming not only Brazil’s first Olympic canoeing medalist, but also the first Brazilian to win three medals in a single Olympics. At the same Games, Mussa Chamaune became Mozambique’s first Olympic canoeist.

Brendel was defending the gold he won in 2012 and 2016 in the C1 1000. He was only the second athlete to win two golds in this event, joining Czech Josef Holecek, who was successful in 1948 and 1952. But Brendel was not able to qualify for the A final in Tokyo.

Other notable C1 1000 performances; in 2012 in London Spain’s David Cal took the silver behind Brendel, his fifth Olympic medal, earning him the title of Spain’s most medaled Olympian. At the same Games, Canada’s Mark Oldershaw became the fifth member of his family to compete at an Olympic Games. By finishing third he became the first member of his family to win a medal.

No-one from outside of Europe has won the men’s K1 1000 Olympic gold for more than 30 years, since Clint Robinson won for Australia in Barcelona in 1992. The sport first appeared alongside the C1 1000 in 1936.

In Tokyo Hungary created history by becoming the first country to win gold and silver in a single Olympic canoe sprint event. Balint Kopasz, the reigning world champion, outlasted teammate Adam Varga for the gold. It was the first men’s gold Olympic sprint title since 1968 for Hungary, and first medal of any colour since 1976.

Sweden’s Gert Fredriksson is widely considered as the best ever canoe sprint paddler. Fredriksson won K1 1000 gold at the 1948, 1952 and 1956 Olympics, and bronze in 1960.

The K1 500 is the only women’s event to appear at every Olympics since 1948, the year women’s canoe sprint was first on the program. In Tokyo, New Zealand’s Lisa Carrington made history by becoming the first non-European to win the event.

It was a very successful Games for the New Zealander. Carrington won three gold medals, becoming just the fourth athlete to do so at a single Olympics. It also took her overall Olympic medal tally to six, making her New Zealand’s most successful Olympic athlete of all time.

Hungary’s Danuta Kozak, another athlete to win three gold in a single Olympics, was chasing a third consecutive gold in the K1 500 in Tokyo, but finished fourth.

Germany’s canoe sprint superstar, Birgit Fischer-Schmidt, won two of her eight Olympic gold medals in the women’s K1 500 – the second in 1992 when she came out of retirement to race for a unified Germany.

The men’s K1 and C1 1000 and the women’s K1 500 will all be decided in Paris in one year from today.

Don’t forget the 2023 ICF Canoe Sprint world championships and Olympic qualifiers coming up from Duisburg, Germany, later this month.  

New Zealand Lisa Carrington K1 500 Tokyo Olympics

Canoe Sprint