More than 120 athletes from 26 countries are set to take part this week in the ICF Paracanoe World Championships at Dartmouth in Canada, the venue where paracanoe and canoe sprint first held a joint world championships in 2009.

Mexico will be represented at a world championships for the first time, while there will also be strong representations from Nigeria, Egypt, Uruguay and Senegal, who all sent athletes to a pre-championships training camp at the Dartmouth venue.

Great Britain is once again expected to be one of the leading performers, especially in the women’s events, but competition in the men’s events has been thrown wide open because of the absence of Paralympic and world champions Curtis McGrath from Australia and Serhii Yemelianov from Ukraine.

This week’s world championships will be the first since women’s VL3 has been officially added to the Paralympic program for Paris in 2024. Great Britain’s Charlotte Henshaw, the reigning women’s KL2 Paralympic and world champion, has won the previous two VL3 world titles.

Henshaw’s teammates Emma Wiggs and Laura Sugar will eye of defending their VL2 and KL3 world titles, while Jack Eyers is the defending world champion in the men’s VL3.

Ukraine is expected to once again perform well, despite the absence of Yemelianov. Mykola Syniuk is the reigning men’s KL2 world champion, while Maryna Mazhula managed to turn the tables on Germany’s Paralympic gold medalist Edina Muller in Copenhagen.

The clash between Mazhula and Muller will be one of the highlights of this week’s paracanoe program. The other big clash is likely to come in the men’s KL1, where Hungary’s Peter Pal Kiss, the reigning Paralympic and world champion, will be looking to return to the top podium after being beaten by France’s Remy Boulle at this year’s ICF world cup.

A talent identification camp being run by the ICF in the lead-up to the world championships has provided an opportunity for several athletes from nations where paracanoe is still in its infancy.

My first dream is to go to the Paralympics. It would be a big goal for me

Timitope Olasupo is one of several Nigerian athletes who have taken part. The 24-year-old previously was a para swimmer, but made the switch to canoe four years ago.

“I started canoeing in 2018, and before that I was doing para swimming. Someone introduced paracanoe to me, and I fell in love with it the very first time I saw it, it was really cool,” Olasupo said on Tuesday.

“There’s a lot I love about paracanoe, but most importantly it’s a platform where I can show my abilities. It’s a great feeling to be here.”

The TIP camp gives athletes like Olasupo a chance to get access to top-level coaching and facilities which they might not have at their disposal in their home country.

“I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been here,” Olasupo said.

“I’ve learned to be disciplined as an athlete, and I’ve learned to be respectful to my coaches, and consistent in my training.

“We are trying to grow the sport in Nigeria. We need more support from the international community so the sport can grow at a very beautiful rate in Nigeria. We need more boats, more paddles, more facilities.

“My first dream is to go to the Paralympics. It would be a big goal for me.”

Wednesday’s world championship competition will see early rounds in both canoe sprint and paracanoe. The only medals to be decided will be in the men’s and women’s VL1 paracanoe.

Both are currently non-Paralympic events, however the ICF is hoping an increase in athlete numbers will see men’s VL1 at least added to the LA28 schedule.

Nigeria Timitope Olasupo paracanoe Dartmouth 2022

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