The 2022 Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Championships in Dartmouth produced plenty of highlights on the water, but it’s an achievement off the water that the International Canoe Federation is particularly proud of.

For the first time ever there was gender equity among officials during the five days of competition. There were 26 officials working during the championships, of which 13 were female.

And for the first time ever at a world championships the official event starter was also a female. Canadian Erin Schaus, who made history at last year’s Tokyo Paralympic Games as the first female starter at either an Olympic or Paralympic competition, was in charge during the Dartmouth titles.

Her appointment as official starter was the next step in a career which began at the same course in 2009, the last time the ICF held its world championships in Dartmouth.

“Being at the senior worlds this year was full circle for me as I wrote my ICF exam at the 2009 worlds in Dartmouth, and now 13 years later it was back again in my hometown and this time as a starter,” Schaus said.

“The experience was amazing, the level and the intensity of the senior worlds was a step up from any of the other competitions that I had done previously.  

“My goal for the competition was to make sure that I did my best with every race that I started for the athletes, and to learn as much as I could to help me become a better official.”

Schaus is no stranger to breaking down barriers, but said she tried not to let her historical achievement in Dartmouth distract her. 

“I didn't really allow myself to think that I was making history being the first female starter until after the event, however now that the competition is over, I'm thankful for the opportunity to be part of the officiating crew that was gender balanced and being the first female starter,” she said. 

“I'm looking forward to next year's events to hopefully gain more experience and to continue working with a great team.”

ICF President Thomas Konietzko said it was an important and long overdue milestone for canoe sports.

“The canoe sprint and paracanoe community have shown us all what can and should be done at all our events, and we can congratulate Erin on becoming the first female starter at a world championships,” he said.

“It is also important that we continue to strive at all levels of our sport for gender equity. Having an equal number of female and male officials at last week’s world championships should become the norm for all our events, including for coaches, board and committee members.” 

Canoe Sprint
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