Paralympic gold medallists out in force for paracanoe world titles

Five of the six paracanoe gold medallists from the Rio 2016 Paralympics will all be in action at the 2018 ICF Paracanoe World Championships, which begin at Montemor in Portugal next Wednesday.

Only British paddler Anne Dickens, who retired after winning KL3 gold at paracanoe’s Paralympics debut, will be missing from a quality field which will also see many athletes doubling up as they plan ahead to the introduction of new events at Tokyo 2020.

British duo Jeanette Chippington and Emma Wiggs, both multiple world champions as well as Paralymoic gold medallists, will go head-to-head in the women’s VL2 in what is set to be one of the races of next week’s championships.

Chippington will also defend her KL1 world title and Wiggs will be favourite in the KL2. Wiggs triumphed when the pair met in the VL2 at this year’s only paracanoe World Cup event.

Australia’s Curtis McGrath and Austria’s Markus Swoboda, gold and silver medallists in the men’s KL2 in Rio, will renew their rivalry next week, and will also cross swords in the VL3, another new event for Tokyo.

They will both be challenged by New Zealand’s Scott Martlew, who was a surprise packet when finishing a close second behind McGrath in the KL2 in Szeged this year.

The three medallists from the men’s KL1 in Rio, Poland’s Jakub Tokarz, Hungary’s Robert Suba and Great Britain’s Ian Marsden, will do battle again in Portugal, and will also contest the VL2.

The ultra-consistent Serhii Yemelianov, a gold medallist for Ukraine in the men’s KL3 in Rio, will be looking to defend the world title he won in Racice last year.

Athletes from more than 30 nations will contest this year’s ICF Paracanoe World Championships, which begin at Montemor-o-Velho on Wednesday.

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