The International Canoe Federation has two important programs running during the canoe marathon world championships in Ponte de Lima, Portugal, this week that will continue to support the growth of the popular discipline around the world.

For the first time a marathon world championships is hosting an event for paracanoe athletes, with 30 athletes from six countries and two continents taking part. Most athletes competed in two races – an open class, which gave athletes with different impairments the opportunity to race each other in the type of kayak of their choice, and a second race breaking athletes into separate impairment categories.

Austria’s Markus Swoboda, a six-time paracanoe sprint world champion and Rio Paralympic Games silver medalist, was one of the star performers in Ponte de Lima, and said he enjoyed the new challenges marathon provided.

“You don’t have to go straight, you can choose the lane yourself, so it makes it much more free to go where you want,” Swoboda said.

“It’s not only about your physical capabilities, it’s also about your cleverness, where to go and what tactics to use.”

Great Britain’s Jonathan William White said he appreciated the open race and the chance to choose his own boat.

“The open category meant we could choose which boats we could paddle in, which is something I’ve pushed really hard for, so we are not restricted to paracanoes but actually be able to paddle the boats in which we could go fastest in,” White said.

“That was really brilliant, so a big thankyou to the ICF for letting us do that. The field here is a real unknown quantity so I have no idea how it’s going to go really, which makes it super amazing.”

The ICF has also been hosting a very successful talent identification camp during the marathon world championships, open to athletes from countries that don’t always have the facilities and infrastructure to enable the development of the sport.

This week’s TIP camp has featured athletes from six nations, including Uruguay, Egypt and Ukraine. It’s the first time Egypt is participating at a marathon world championships, and the country has also brought a coach to Portugal to develop new ideas for increasing the level of marathon participation in the African nation.

Egypt is also one of the key countries identified by the ICF as part of its overall goal to grow paddle sports on the continent. The ICF recently announced the appointment of a continental director to help drive the development of canoeing in Africa.

Pics by Balint Vekassy

2022 ICF canoe marathon Ponte de Lima scenic

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