A fisherman from Tahiti,  tourist guide from Easter Island, and an athlete from Chile who had to rely on crowdfunding to get to Europe are among the paracanoe paddlers set to take to the water when the first ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Cup of 2019 kicks off in Poznan, Poland.

The introduction of a new category at next year’s Tokyo Paralympics has been met with enthusiasm by the athletes, many who will race for the first time in international competition this weekend.

The va’a, or outrigger canoe, category has attracted athletes from around the world. Several took part in the ICF’s first paracanoe talent identification camp in Budapest last week, including athletes from India, Egypt, Chile and Colombia.

Patrick Viriamu is a fisherman from Tahiti who will compete in the men’s VL3. Because Tahiti does not have a national paralympic committee, he will compete for France this weekend.

He’ll come up against Arturo Edwards, a tourist guide on Easter Island who will compete for Chile. It will be a hotly contested event in a new Paralympic category.

In the women’s VL2, Chile’s Jocelyn Munoz had to rely on a crowdfunding program to finance her trip to Poland. Another interesting first-time competitor will be USA’s Kaitlyn Louise Verfuerth, who is already a three-time Paralympian in the sport of tennis.

Paracanoe competition will take centre stage on the opening day of the four-day world cup event in Poznan, with several of the paddlers having already warmed up in the European Paralympic Championships, which finished on Wednesday.

The first shot in the battle for women’s KL2 supremacy was fired by Great Britain’s Charlotte Henshaw, who repeated her world championship victory over teammate and Rio Paralympic gold medalist, Emma Wiggs.

The second title of the day for British Canoeing was won by Stuart Wood, who received gold medal in men’s VL3 200 metres final. Eddie Potdevin from France finished the race in second place and Nicholas Beighton from Great Britain was third.

The host nation also celebrated a European champion title thanks to Katarzyna Sobczak, who was the fastest in women’s KL3 final. Nelia Barbosa from France crossed the finish line second and Laura Sugar from Great Britain was third.

Ukraine continued with great performances that started on Tuesday. After two European Champion titles in men’s KL2 and KL3 events, Maryna Mazhula won another gold medal for Ukraine in the women’s KL1 final. Eleonora De Paolis from Italy and Jeanette Chippington from Great Britain joined her on the winner’s podium.

Russian paracanoeist Igor Korobeynikov produced the best time in men’s VL2 200 metres final. Jakub Tokarz won the second medal of the day for Poland, picking up silver medal. Norberto Mourao from Portugal was third and won the historic first medal at Paracanoeing European Championships for his country.

On Tuesday Ukrainian parakayaker Serhii Yemelianov defended his title from last year’s European Championships in Belgrade in men’s KL3 200 metres event.

The 25-year-old has been unbeatable in men’s KL3 200 metres final of the major competitions for some time now. He is the 2016 Paralympic champion, 2017 and 2018 world champion and was also defending European champion. In the last final race of the day he produced the best time to win another gold medal for his impressive collection.

“We worked really hard to do this. My wish is to win more European Championships titles, maybe five or six. The race was great. We had a little bit of wind in front, but the race was good,” Yemelianov said.

Silver medal in this event went to Russia’s Leonid Krylov, while British paddler Robert Oliver picked up the bronze medal.

Ukraine celebrated also in men’s KL2 200 metres final. Mykola Syniuk celebrated a win in front of Austrian paddler Markus Mendy Swoboda and third placed Italian parakayaker, Federico Mancarella.

Young Hungarian paddler Peter Pal Kiss won the European Champion title at the age of 16 in men’s KL1 200 metres final. It was a tight race but he showed more power to stop the clock at 51.797. Italian Esteban Farias was only 0.036 seconds behind to win the silver medal, while Ian Marsden from Great Britain was third.

Russian paracanoeist Larisa Volik won the European Champion title in women’s VL3 200 metres final, finishing the race ahead of Nataliia Lahutenko from Ukraine and Anja Adler from Germany.

Results: http://results.imas-sport.com/imas/regatta.php?competition=wettkampf_199

#ICFparacanoe #paracanoe