In one year from today a whole new audience will get to experience the thrills and spills of one of the exciting new sports on the Olympic program – kayak cross.

On Monday August 5, 2024, the first ever kayak cross Olympic medals will be decided. The races will be the culmination of a week of canoe slalom competition at the Paris Vaires-sur-Marne Nautical Stadium.

The unpredictability of kayak cross competition will be even harder to read in Paris, with only three athlete quotas available before the Games begins. But every Federation who has an athlete competing in canoe slalom can enter up to two athletes in the kayak cross competition.

Olympic gold medalists Joe Clarke of Great Britain and Jessica Fox of Australia are among the athletes who have previously been kayak cross world champions. Both have won the past two world titles.

Since the sports inclusion on the Olympic program, more of the best kayak and canoe athletes in the world have been competing. And in 2023 we have seen athletes who have made kayak cross their main focus starting to reap the benefits.

The Swiss team especially, led by two-time U23 world champion Dimitri Marx, benefited from a strong kayak cross training focus, and have set the bar high for athletes from other countries to reach.

Given the kayak cross Olympic medals will be up for grabs at the end of the slalom competition, it can be expected most federations will take the opportunity to put two athletes into the preliminary rounds. For a handful of athletes it will open the door for three possible Olympic medals at a single Games.

To get there though they will need to conquer a race format that requires athletes to  be both clever and ruthless. Four athletes plunging into the water in plastic boats from a platform suspended above the surface, and then racing down a course with upstream and downstream gates, and completing a compulsory roll, will be challenging enough.

But add to the mix that contact is permitted, and that athletes can be barreled out of the way by an opponent, and the scene is set for some of the most exciting racing of the Paris Olympics.

The three quotas available ahead of Paris will be decided at a special kayak cross competition to be held in Prague in early 2024. Only athletes who have not yet qualified an athlete quota place in any K1 or C1 event will be allowed to enter.

But each country which meets the criteria will be allowed to enter up to three athletes in the Olympic qualifiers, with the three highest ranked countries earning a ticket to Paris.

Kayak Cross