The first ICF World Cups races in China will be held this weekend as part of the preparations for the 2019 World Championships in Shaoxing.

The races will provide an opportunity for the local organisation to develop their plans and also for many international paddlers to familiarise themselves with the venue.

Forty senior athletes have been invited to attend, based upon the results from the 2016 World Championships, and are being provided with boats by the Chinese Federation. This ensures representation from 24 countries across all five continents which should provide exciting racing and help to build the excitement for the future World Championships.

The invited paddlers are joined by other international paddlers and a large number of Chinese paddlers seeking to test themselves on the same course as many of the world’s best marathon paddlers.

For the seniors, this weekend offers both the normal distance and short course races while the juniors are racing over the short course distance.

The senior women K1 races see six of the top ten at the 2017 World Championships heading the field, including bronze medallist Jenny Egan from Ireland, fourth placed Eva Barrios from Spain and fifth placed Anna Koziskova from the Czech Republic lining up for what should be close and exciting races.

The senior men K1 races include the silver and bronze medal winners from the 2017 World Championships, Andrew Birkett of South Africa and Adrian Boros of Hungary, heading a field that promises to deliver open racing.

The senior C1 classes also promise open racing with the men’s field headed by Nuno Barros of Portugal who finished fourth at the 2017 World Championships, while the women’s race is entirely comprised of athletes from China and Hong Kong.

The junior classes only race over the short course and are made up only of young Chinese paddlers with 46 junior women K1, 56 junior men K1 and 35 junior men C1 lining up to stake an early claim for a place at the World Championships in two years.

The course and facilities being laid on by the Chinese Federation in Shaoxing look excellent,  and this is clearly an event that is being taken very serious which promises much for the 2019 World Championships.

Next week the athletes and organisation move on to a second series of races in Shanghai, which also promise much in terms of organisation and facilities and will provide athletes with an opportunity for an immediate re-match.

Canoe Marathon