It is with great sadness that we report the passing of our former ICF Vice-president (1996 – 2004), Marcel Venot, who was also French Canoe Federation President  between 1980 – 1984 and again between 1988 and 1996.

Marcel was slowly recovering from his recent health problems, but on Thursday April 30, he succumbed due to the coronavirus. He was born on April 14, 1938, in Roanne (France) near the Loire river.

Among his key achievments during a lifetime devoted to canoeing, Marcel held the position of ICF vice-president for two mandates. Between 1996 and 2000, under the presidency of Italy's Sergio Orsi, Marcel played a key role in supporting the re-introduction of canoe slalom at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, after it was initially removed from the program

He activated national federations around the globe to lobby for slalom's successful return to the program. Following Sydney, and under the presidency of Germany's Ulrich Feldhoff, Marcel worked with the then ICF secretary-general, Jose Perurena, to professionalise the ICF headquarters and to have the position of secretary general turned into a paid role.

Marcel also devoted a lot of time to strengthening cooperation between the ICF and the International Vaá Federation (IVF).

It was in Roanne that he discovered canoeing in 1954 at the local canoë kayak club. A canoe sprint international class paddler, Marcel competed in the European championships in C1 in 1957 and 1959.

He was a lifelong passionate advocate of all canoeing disciplines and was involved in their development through several mandates at national and international level (chairman of canoe sprint and wildwater canoeing at the French Canoe Federation and member of the ICF Canoe Slalom committee in 1988). 

During his Presidency of the French Canoe Federation, Marcel had been President of the organising committee of the 1991 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Vaires-sur-Marne (2024 Olympic Games competition venue). He was one of the founding fathers of the first automatic start system used sucessfully for the first time at this World Championships.

He brokered an agreement between the ICF and a French company (AGSO) to develop this first system. This automatic starting system was used by the ICF at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona and now it is a common standard.

Marcel had been deeply involved in the French Olympic movement as executive board member at the French Olympic Committee from 1993 to 1997.

The ICF community met him last in Pau during the 2017 ICF Canoe Slalom and Wildwater Canoeing World Championships. He was, as always, cordial, generous and happy to find his friends from the canoeing family.

Pic courtesy Michel Chapuis