Where better than one of Europe’s oldest cities to showcase the future of international sprint canoeing later this year?

Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second biggest city, dates back to the earliest days of European civilization, and also has a significant place in the history of canoeing.

In 1997 Plovdiv hosted the very first European Canoe Sprint Championships.

Since then it’s been a regular on the European and international canoe calendar, and this year will host the very best U23 and junior paddlers from throughout the world.

Last year was more frantic than most for the team at the Bulgarian Canoe Federation, but it gave them confidence that this year’s 2018 ICF U23 and Junior Canoe Sprint World Championships will be a success.

“Last year we faced the most serious challenge as the organisers because canoe sprint and paracanoe men and women European Championships and the World Rowing Championship for men were held in consequence,” Evelina Petrova, BCF Executive Director, said.

“The rowing started only three days after our final. The organization went in parallel but we did a great job.

“Both teams, canoeing and rowing, received very good recognition for their job. Our team has gained a lot of experience.”

The BCF is receiving strong support from the Ministry of Youth and Sports, as well as the Plovdiv Municipality.

And Ms Petrova is confident the World Championships will be well supported by the locals.

“Bulgaria is a country with traditions in canoeing and the Bulgarians like this sport very much,” Ms Petrova said.

“Plovdiv has affirmed as an excellent host of races of the highest rank and the interest is growing in years. We believe that this trend will continue in 2018.”

Plovdiv is at the heart of Bulgaria’s long-term goal to remain a world powerhouse in canoe sprint.

Hosting major events regularly helps, especially if it attracts the interest of local children.

“Our goal is as many children and young people as possible to contact with the beauty and magic of canoeing,” Ms Petrova said.

“We are convinced that we will motivate many of them to involve systematically in our sport. We want to introduce to them the Bulgarian sports stars who are the main part of an organizing committee, such as Nikolay Buhalov, Milko Kazanov and Peter Merkov.

“They can see first hand their dedication to canoeing and the organisational skills they have created thanks to sport.”

And for the visitors? A chance to see for themselves the city that in 2019 will be the “European Capital of Culture”, and which in 2014 was declared a “European City of Sports”.

Over the centuries Plovdiv has been invaded by the Greeks, Turks, Persians, Romans and the Crusaders, to name but a few, and between July 26 and 29 this year the city will be invaded once again.

But this time all will be welcome, and encouraged to come back again – often.

“We believe that the participants and the guests of the championship will have the opportunity to see exceptional sights because Plovdiv is one of the oldest living cities in Europe,” Ms Petrova said.

“It is claimed to be a contemporary of Troy and Mycenae and is more ancient than Rome, Athens and Constantinople.”

The 2018 ICF U23 and Junior Canoe Sprint World Championships will be held in Plovdiv from July 26-29.

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