Taste of Olympics returns to Barcelona canoeing after 26 years

None of the athletes competing in next month’s Youth Olympic Games canoe trials were even born when the Olympics came to Barcelona, but most will be aware they will be competing at the very same venue as some of the biggest names in canoe sprint competed 26 years ago.

In 1992 the Olympic Canal of Catalonia, located in Castelldefels, hosted the world’s very best sprint canoeists, an event where Germany snared exactly half of the 12 gold medals on offer.

Germany’s Birgit Fischer, Kay Blum and Torsten Gutsche, and Bulgaria’s Nikolay Bukhalov were some of the star canoeing performers of the Barcelona Olympics, and from April 12 a bunch of fresh-faced young paddlers from around the world will look to start their own Olympic journey.

More than 300 paddlers from more than 50 nations will by vying for selection in this year’s Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires. The athletes will be aged between 15 and 18, and for many it will be their first major competition in the unique YOG canoeing format. 

The support of the General Secretary of l'Esport has been decisive for the International Canoe Federation (ICF) betting on the canal of calm Catalan waters, which brings together qualities such as sporting interest, good facilities, a nearby international airport and many possibilities of proximity accommodation. 

"The Secretariat has made an important effort to re-equip the Olympic Canal of Catalonia, in Castelldefels, with international competitions," Gerard Figueras, general secretary of l'Esport, said.

“The installation is exemplary in the aspect of functioning and self-sufficiency, but it was necessary to take a step forward and recover the competitive spirit to which was built in 1992. The organisation of this classification of the Youth Olympic Games has allowed us to resuscitate  ourselves in this aspect, since our interlocutors have been the International Olympic Committee and the International Canoe Federation.

“We have had very fluid dialogue with these two organizations, and this can help us in the future to opt for new high-level competitions, and we must not forget that, in June, the channel will host the canoeing events of the Mediterranean Games. "

"The canoeing channel is a profitable sport complex, which has always sought a balance between the user's side and the competitive part,”Arseni da Palma, director of the Canal Oli’mpic de Catalunya, said.

“We were missing a push to organize level competitions again, and with the qualification of the Olympic Games for Youth, we return to the international showcase and to the champions of the Olympic facilities.

“The Canal Olímpic de Catalunya, in Castelldefels, is a world-wide reference, since after twenty-five years of having been inaugurated for Barcelona 1992, it continues open and at full capacity, which, unfortunately, can not be said by other Olympic venues. "

There will be 58 paddlers -29 men and 29 women – looking to lock-up qualifying positions in Barcelona.

Each sports federation can present up to eight paddlers (two for each of the four categories: male and female K1, and male and female C1) and eight competitions are held.

Canoe Sprint
Canoe Slalom
Wildwater Canoeing
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