Its been a long wait for many of the top Paracanoe athletes but today competition got underway for the first Paracanoe events in the Paralympic Games.  Sixty athletes from 25 countries will battle it out over 200 metres for medals over the next two days.

Women’s KL1 Competition

We got underway with Edina Muller (GER) easing to victory in a time of 58.662 seconds.  The First Paralympic Best time.

Muller reflected after the race, “Its amazing that paracanoe is Paralympic now.  I had the honour to start the whole thing with the very first race and it’s just a great feeling, whatever happens we are writing history here and I’m very proud of it.”

Katherinne Wollermann (CHI) wobbled over the line but still was strong enough to reach the final as well.  Jeannette Chippington (GBR) won the other heat and will be stiff competition to Muller in the final.  Kamila Kubas (POL) made the final comfortably also.    Anita Vaczi (HUN), Jocelyn Neumuller (AUS), Agnes Lacheux (FRA) and Monika Seryu (JPN)  won final places from the semi final.

Men’s KL1 Competition

Another Paralympic Best time was set in the third race of the day by Ian Marsden (GBR) in 52.311 seconds to reach the final. 

Marsden told the ICF after his race, “To be honest before I finished I didn’t know what was going on.  I did not know I had won the race until I got to boat control.  We had a bit of headwind which was good.  I just focused down the lane. I was hoping to get one more race before heading to the final tomorrow but now I don’t have to race again today.”

He was closely followed by Robert Suba (HUN).  The local crowd cheered wildly for Luis Carlos Cardosa da Silva (BRA) who showed why he is a medal contender by finishing first in his heat.  Remy Boulle (FRA) also booked his final place comfortably from the heat behind the Brazilian.   From the semi final the four athletes that qualified for the final were Jakub Tokarz (POL), Xiaowei Yu (CHN), Lucas Diaz (ARG) and Colin Sieders (AUS).  All is set for a very exciting final in this category.

Women’s KL2 Competition

In the KL2 women’s event Emma Wiggs (GBR) also set a Paralympic Best on her way to the final (54.519 seconds).  Danquin Wang (CHN)  followed Wiggs over the finish line to make the final as well. 

Wiggs was jubilant after the race stating, “It was absolutely brilliant, I am just so confident of what the team has been doing and the hard work we put in so I was really able to sit at the start line and see we have done absolutely what we could have and it’s very nice feeling when you get the first race done.  I just focused on my race plan and just paddled the plan.”

In the second heat, Natalia Lagutenko (UKR) and Susan Seipel (AUS) would qualify but both slower than those qualified from the first heat.  The other finalists would be made up of Christine Gauthier (CAN), Katalin Varga (HUN), Pascale Bercovitch (ISR) and Alana Nichols (USA).

Men’s KL2 Competition

Curtis McGrath (AUS) showed why he is a favourite for a medal in this competition by setting a Paralympic Best time of 44.104 seconds.  Ukraine’s Mykola Syniuk also qualified for the final in 47.307 seconds.

McGrath said, “It was not my best race, I had a bad start, I just wasn’t listening properly, tomorrow it’s going to be more pressure and a bit more intense and I really need to step up . It’s amazing to be able to paddle at the Paralympics, we have made history here.   Rio is an amazing place to paddle and the crowd out there is really great. We are at a biggest stage for our sport, there are so many people who are watching and following the results.”

 In the second heat Markus Swoboda (AUT) showed that McGrath won’t have it all his own way with a time of 44.525 seconds.  Nick Beighton (GBR) directly qualified for the final as well from the second heat.   The semi final saw Federico Mancarella (ITA) dominate the race and clearly showed his promise for upsetting the favourites in the final.  Dejan Fabcic (SLO), Andras Rozbora (HUN) and Ivo Kilian (GER) all made the final as well.

Women’s KL3 Competition

Anne Dickins (GBR) set the standard in this competition with a time of 53.591 seconds.  However, five minutes later Amanda Reynolds (AUS) would beat this time with 53.412 seconds setting up a greatly anticipated final between these two. 

Dickins told the ICF “I expected to be really nervous but I just have done it time and time again and practiced for it in training and previous races and I just followed my process. I had a bit of a rubbish start but it didn’t put me off, I knew what I had to do, I picked up my acceleration and just sat on it to the end and enjoyed the last half of my race.”

Also Cindy Moreau (FRA) should not be discounted as she put in a good show to qualify for the final in 53.731 seconds.  Veronica Plebani (ITA) qualified directly to the final as well.  In the semi-final, Mihaela Lulea (ROU) showed why her decision to return to the sport was a good idea qualifying for the final.  Helena Ripa (SWE), Erica Scarff (CAN) and Kelly Allen (USA) make up the final start list.

Men’s KL3 Competition

Tom Kierey (GER) set a scorching pace in his heat to take the win in 42.345 seconds.  Roumania’s Lulian Serban would also qualify directly for the final. 

Talking after the event Kierey said “My race was really good, I had a nice start, strong head wind so very hard conditions to stay first at the last 50 meters but everything worked very well for me.  I had the time to enjoy the race so looking forward to tomorrow and the Final.”

The biggest cheer of the day went to Caio Ribeiro de Carvalho (BRA) who won the second heat in 43.033 seconds which will mean a very charged atmosphere for the final.  Serhii Yemelianov (UKR) finished behind the Brazilian to make the final.  The semi final saw Rob Oliver (GBR), Martin Farineaux (FRA), Patrick O’Leary (IRL) and Scott Martlew (NZL) all qualify for the final. 

The racing today was of the highest standard and enjoyed by a large crowd supporting all the athletes.  Tomorrow’s final will be the pinnacle of four years work for the athletes and those involved in the sport and another day of history as Paracanoe medals are given for the first time at the Paralympic Games.

Below you can find the full list of results for the day: