Olympic gold medalists and World Champions, including three Ukrainian crews, are among the all-star start list for the opening ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup of the season in the Czech Republic next week.

The first international competition for the season kicks off in Racice on Friday, and looks set to be the first full competition since the disruption caused by the Covid pandemic.

More than 500 athletes from 50 countries and five continents have entered the world cup. For some countries it will be their first major international competition, outside the Olympics, since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.

The lifting of travel restrictions means New Zealand’s five-time Olympic gold medalist Lisa Carrington and Australia’s K2 1000 Tokyo gold medalists Tom Green and Jean Van Der Westhuyzen get to compete at their first world cups since 2019.

It will be a new-look New Zealand team supporting Carrington, who has become Dame Lisa Carrington since Tokyo. Alicia Hoskin is her new K2 500 partner, while there are three new members of the women’s K4 500 boat.

The men’s C1 1000 looks set to be one of the highlights of the opening world cup, with the top six placings from the Tokyo Olympics, headed by Brazil’s gold medalist, Isaquias dos Santos, entered.

The women’s C2 500 has also attracted an exceptional field, headed by China’s Olympic gold medal combination of Shixiao Xu and Mengya Sun, and Olympic bronze medalists and reigning world champions Liudmyla Luzan and Anastasiia Chetverikova of Ukraine.

The men’s K4 500 looks set to once again be a fight to the wire between Tokyo gold and silver medalists, Germany and Spain. The German’s have made one forced change, with 100o metre specialist Jacob Schopf replacing the retired Ronald Rauhe, while Spain has named the same crew who only just missed gold in Japan.

Shopf, fourth in the K1 1000 in Tokyo, and two-time world champion and Tokyo bronze medalist Fernando Pimenta of Portugal, will be the men to catch in the K1 1000 next weekend.

The Ukrainian men’s K4 and C4 crews head a formidable list of 2021 world champions who will be looking to get their 2021 season off to a flying start in Racice.

Katie Vincent, looking to take over the mantle of recently retired Canadian teammate, Laurence Vincent Lapointe, in the women’s C1 200, and Italy’s Nicolae Craciun and Daniele Santini in the new Olympic event of the men’s C2 500, come into next weekend as world champions.

Support from the international canoe family has guaranteed a strong contingent of Ukrainian athletes will compete in Racice.

The three-day world cup begins on Friday and ends with the popular 5000 metre races on Sunday afternoon. Full event details can be found here.

New Zealand Lisa Carrington K1 200 Tokyo Olympics

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