RIO DE JANEIRO - Lucien DELFOUR (AUS) will have the cream of European canoe slalom ahead of him when he begins his bid to win Australia's first Olympic gold medal in the sport at Whitewater Stadium on Sunday.

The top-ranked K1 paddler in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games competition will be the final competitor to leave the starting gate, aware that all except one of the 21 medals awarded in the men's K1 in Olympic Games history have been won by European athletes.

The difference this time is that only one past medallist is present - Germany's Hannes AIGNER, who won bronze at the London 2012 Olympic Games - and only five of the other entrants have Olympic Games experience.

"Who is the biggest threat? I don't know, there's quite a few good paddlers," DELFOUR said as he made the final adjustments to his boat at Whitewater Stadium on Saturday.

"Jiri PRSKAVEC (CZE) is good and he won the world championships last year, and Peter KAUZER (SLO) has been really consistent this year. Also Sebastien COMBOT, the French guy. They always do well, the French."

World No.4 DELFOUR said he was not accustomed to arriving at a major competition in pole position, but had started last "in a couple of races" where he had won the semifinals. "It's quite exciting really; it's a bit different and it adds a bit more pressure," DELFOUR said.

The men's C1 also begins on Sunday, with Beijing 2008 silver medallist David FLORENCE (GBR) expecting a wide open race.

After his final training session on Saturday, the world No.5 highlighted Matej BENUS (SVK), Benjamin SAVSEK (SLO), Denis GARGAUD CHANUT (FRA) and London 2012 silver medallist Sideris TASIADIS (GER) as the paddlers carrying good form into the Games.

"They're all big favourites and then you have a couple of other guys who've been putting in great runs this year," FLORENCE said, naming world No.7 Takuya HANEDA (JPN) and potential surprise package Vitezslav GEBAS (CZE), ranked No.23.

"It's a hard one to call. There are a lot of good guys out there so it's going to be whoever puts down a really good run at the crucial time."

In both events, only the heats will be contested on Sunday with each paddler having two runs on the 250-metre course with their best times counting towards qualification. The top 15 paddlers from 21 starters in the K1 will advance to the semifinals, with 14 from 19 progressing in the C1.

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Canoe Slalom