The International Canoe Federation has congratulated the athletes, organisers and officials who embraced the forced and unforced changes to the canoe sprint and paracanoe program at the world cup in Poznan on the weekend.

Strong winds forced a radical rethink of the competition schedule, with almost all racing cancelled on Saturday, and every final held on a crowded Sunday.

Despite the changes the event finished successfully, and even created history with Portugal’s Fernando Pimenta becoming the first canoe sprint athlete to win four gold medals at a world cup on one day.

ICF canoe sprint chair, Toshi Foruya, said there were very few complaints about the change to the program or the challenging final day.

“We all saw the conditions on Saturday and knew it would not be possible to safely hold races in that environment,” Foruya said.

“It meant an early start Sunday, which was a bit of a shock to the system for some, but we witnessed some incredible racing and a fantastic spread of medals across countries from every corner of the globe.

“I cannot speak highly enough of the professional work of the organising committee in making this event happen, and of the athletes and officials who had to radically change their usual routines to ensure we could complete our racing.”

Covid also created problems for organisers, with late scratchings and changes to boat personnel.

One of the unforced changes came in the form of new-look 5000 metre races. Portages, where athletes have to paddle to shore, pick up their boat, and then run to a drop-in point, were added to the weekend’s event.

After initial trepidation from some athletes and teams, the changes were embraced and the overwhelming post-race sentiment was extremely positive.

“The response from online fans, from spectators at the venue, and most importantly, the athletes themselves, is extremely encouraging,” ICF President Thomas Konietzko said.

“We are always looking at ways to modernise our sports, and to add elements to races which will hopefully bring in athletes from other fields, and also appeal to new tv and online viewers.

“The IOC is looking for sports to be innovative, and I can confidently say the racing we displayed on the weekend ticks that box. It gives us an exciting product to take to potential event organisers, and for that we thank all involved in Poznan for giving this a chance.”

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