The canoe slalom course at the Lee Valley Whitewater Centre outside London is an outstanding example of how a well constructed and well managed Olympic venue can benefit a community, according to International Canoe Federation slalom chair Jean-Michel Prono.

Prono made the comment after visiting the London 2012 Olympic venue last week to check on preparations for this year’s ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships, which will also act as the main qualifying event for next year’s Paris Games.

The Lee Valley centre regularly hosts major international, national and local canoe slalom and kayak cross events, and is also a popular recreational venue. It also hosted the world championships and Olympic qualifiers in 2015 ahead of the Rio Olympics.

Only one of the nine venues used to host canoe slalom at the Olympic Games – Athens - is no longer used. Augsburg, which hosted slalom’s debut at the 1972 Munich Olympics, was the venue for last year’s ICF World Championships, while Penrith, the venue for the Sydney 2000 Games, will host the 2025 World Championships.

“It always gives us a great thrill to visit the Lee Valley White Water Centre, because the memories of what was an outstanding Olympic competition more than a decade ago come flooding back,” Prono said.

“It really is one of our most outstanding venues, and already the excitement is building ahead of this year’s world championships and Olympic qualifiers. British Canoeing, as always, is leaving no stone unturned in its preparations for this showcase event.

“The Olympic qualifiers is in so many ways much tougher for the athletes than the actual Games. So it’s incredibly important we put on a world-class event at a world-class venue. This year’s world championships will be such an event.”

Following the venue visit the ICF canoe slalom committee was invited by British Canoeing and UK Sport to hold its semestrial meeting in London. The committee took the opportunity to discuss the future direction of the sport, and how to continue the excellent progress that has already been made towards making slalom and kayak cross more globally accessible and environmentally friendly.

“We have taken lots of important decisions in recent years to ensure canoe slalom and kayak cross continues to grow around the world,” Prono said.

“Our development program is very much focused on areas where the sports are really starting to take off. The global spread of medals at recent Olympic Games is testament to the success of this program.

“We are also working hard to reduce our carbon footprint, not just at events, but also in the design of our venues. We are building our reputation as a world leader in this area.”

The 2023 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships at Lee Valley will be held between September 19-24.

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