The first ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup of the new Olympic cycle is set to be an intense affair, with all but two of last year’s Rio medallists lining up to compete on the famous Troja venue in Prague.

The gold, silver and bronze medallists from the men’s and women’s K1 events will all be competing, along with the gold and bronze medallists from the men’s C2 and the second and third placegetters from the men’s C1.

Prague will also see increased interest in the women’s C1, which will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo in 2020. Already several women’s K1 athletes have added the new Olympic discipline to their program.

“There's a sense of purpose amongst the C1 women I've seen on the water,” Australian paddler Ros Lawrence said.

“There are plenty of fresh faces I haven't met amongst my favourites from past years, and I can't wait to get in the mix and enjoy the challenges of racing.”

Men’s K1 gold medallist, Joseph Clarke, women’s K1 gold medallist, Maialen Chourraut, and the men’s C2 gold medal pairing of Ladislav and Peter Skantar will all be lining up in Prague.

There will also be plenty of World Champions, including local favourite Katerina Kudejova, who admits she’s been struggling for motivation in recent weeks.

“I'm feeling quite tired,” she admits.

“I had a great winter's part of training. I had been in Emirates and also in Australia. But then we come back to the Czech Republic and had to start the horrible part of training, in cold weather.

“I was really very much motivated after the Olympic Games (where she finished tenth) to try hard to get at another Games, but now I'm not so much motivated.”

Another local athlete looking to make an impression is K1 paddler, Vit Prindis, who just missed Olympic qualification with the very competitive Czech team last year.

“In Czech there are four or five paddlers who can win a medal at the world races,” Prindis said.

“But to be able to race with them at the basic levels like every training session, and to compete in our domestic races, is very helpful.

“I still feel I am continually improving my paddling and I really want to win a World Championship medal.”

The ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup 1 begins in Prague on Friday, June 16.

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