More than 130 athletes from 37 countries are set to fight it out next week in Szeged, Hungary, for the handful of remaining paracanoe quotas available for this year’s Paralympic Games in Tokyo.ungaryH

Competitors from all corners of the globe will be vying for four remaining quotas in each of the five Paralympic events. Several countries will be hoping to make their Games debut, five years after paracanoe made its first appearance in Rio in 2016.

The paracanoe programme at the Paralympics has been expanded from six races to nine in Tokyo, with two Vaá categories added. There were 60 athletes competing in Rio, and 90 will get the opportunity to paddle for gold in Japan.

Athletes from Africa, South, Central and North America, Asia, Europe, Oceania and the Middle East have all nominated for Szeged, underlining the strong growth of paracanoe around the world.

“We are very excited to see so many countries and so many athletes all vying for a place at this year’s Tokyo Paralympic Games,” ICF paracanoe committee chairman, John Edwards, said.

“It is a wonderful boost for our sport, especially after such a difficult period globally where so many athletes have struggled to train and have really missed the opportunity to compete.

“What will be particularly exciting is to see just how much our sport has grown since Rio. Times are much faster, athletes are stronger, and, most importantly, we are going to see new countries represented.”

Several athletes have already locked away their Paralympic quota, but will still take the opportunity to compete in Szeged to get valuable race experience before heading to Tokyo in August.

The 2021 ICF paracanoe world cup and Paralympic selection event begins in Szeged on May 13 and runs until May 15. The world cup will also help determine seedings for Tokyo.

#ICFparacanoe #paracanoe