Dear friends, colleagues, national federations, and paddlers all over the world

Behind us lies an exhausting but successful year 2023 with major challenges that we had to overcome.

First and foremost, we have mastered our main task of organising top-class competitions. We know very well and appreciate the professional work of our federations and organisers, without which we would not be able to promote our sport worldwide and get more sports enthusiasts interested in our sport.

I could now list all the outstanding World Cups and World Championships individually, but that would go beyond the scope of this speech. So please forgive me for only listing a few highlights here. Our world championships in slalom and kayak cross in London and in sprint in Duisburg were the best advertisements for our sport worldwide. But all the other competitions also put our athletes centre stage and countless supporters and volunteers made all our competitions an unforgettable experience for our athletes.

Perhaps one of our greatest successes this year was the confirmation of our two Olympic sports at the Olympic Games in LA 28 by the IOC Session in Mumbai. Continuing with the Olympics both sprint and slalom remain central to the Olympic programme with 16 medals across our two disciplines confirmed for LA 2028. We also visited Brisbane at the start of the year which has exciting plans for our sport in 2032. It is good to know that we have together successfully strengthened our long-term position in the Olympic movement again this year.

But in addition to all our competitions, the global political situation presented us with major challenges. Nevertheless, we had to find the balance in our decisions, to consider the Olympic values to unite the world through the values of sport. The difficult thing was that there were two very different positions within our Federation that were opposed to each other.

I think we have achieved a good balance with our decision regarding neutral athletes, which is seen as a role model by many other international federations.

And I am grateful and proud of our Canoe community, which once again this year has continued its support to our Ukrainian paddlers.

Our new development strategy of providing customised offers and focusing on sustainable training for local trainers has paid off and we were able to train more than 200 coaches in Africa and America in 2023.

Our first women's symposium in Dublin, with the support of the Irish Canoe Federation was a great success in implementing our gender equality strategy.

Our sustainability workshop at the Slalom World Championships with the support of British Canoeing and our MoU with Alibaba Cloud will help us to make our sport and our competitions even more sustainable.

We were able to gain numerous new partners for our Federation and significantly increase our income from sponsorship and partner programmes. Thank you to all suppliers and companies who support our sport with their contributions. Fortunately, our sport is not just about money, but without additional income, we cannot achieve our ambitious goals of supporting our Federations worldwide.

We have made great progress in spreading our sport worldwide. We have learned that our community is already willing to pay for a top-class product that can be invested in the further development of our sport even if we still need to improve the selection of our partners and were still able to increase our audience numbers on our traditional channels.

We have significantly increased our television presence in numerous countries by concluding new contracts with TV stations worldwide and our cooperation with China Media Group has led to a multiplication of audience in Asia.

My colleagues on the Board, our Vice Presidents, and our office with Richard at the helm have tackled and achieved a lot this year.

Now we can concentrate on next year's Olympic Games which bring the whole world together and show the power and importance of the Olympic Movement as one of the last global unifying movements in a world that is drifting further apart.

Paris represents a special opportunity for our sport with a three-time Olympic champion as President of the organising committee and the introduction of the kayak cross. There is already now a lot of interest in our competitions, which is also reflected in ticket sales. We will do everything we can to let our athletes shine there and show the world how attractive and exciting our sport is.

Finally, I would like to thank all our Federations, all coaches and officials, the numerous volunteers and my colleagues on the board and our dedicated staff for their great commitment to the further development of our sport in all disciplines, non-Olympic and Olympic.

Let's continue to work together and make the 2024 Olympic year another successful year for our sport. I wish everyone a peaceful time and a healthy and successful new year 2024.