Tokyo Paralympic gold medalists Peter Kiss from Hungary and Serhii Yemelianov from Ukraine will be among almost 100 athletes from 20 countries lining up in Poland this week in the first ICF Paracanoe World Cup for 2022.

Ukraine is expected to dominate the event, with world champions and Paralympic silver medalists Maryna Mazhula in the women’s KL1 and Mykola Syniuk in the men’s KL2 joining two-time Paralympic gold medalist Yemelianov in Poznan.

Many countries are taking the opportunity to test new talent ahead of the Paris 2024 Paralympics, with several athletes making their world cup debut in Poland.

Among them is Israeli doctor Irina Shafir, who broke her back in an acrobatic accident less than three years ago. She turned to canoeing because it is a sport where she doesn’t need to be in her wheelchair.

“I like sports, I like moving, so as part of my rehabilitation I wanted to find a sport where I didn’t need to be in a wheelchair,” Shafir said.

“I don’t like the wheelchair, and I want to be out of it as much as possible, so I said any kind of sport that will take me out of a wheelchair, I am willing to try.

“To be honest my main goal is just to enjoy it, and I’m hoping to be as good as I can. I hope it will help me somehow with my rehabilitation.”

Shafir is still so new at the sport she is unsure how to describe the category she will be racing in. She will line-up in the VL2, and is also hoping to race in the ICF Paracanoe World Championships in Halifax, Canada, later this year.

The ICF Paracanoe World Cup begins on Thursday. Start lists and event timetable can be found here.

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