Qualification season is underway.

As the international paddling community prepares for a blockbuster year, countries around the globe have begun the selection process for athletes who will be tasked with earning Olympic and Paralympic quotas later this year.

In the Southern Hemisphere qualifiers are well underway. Paddle Australia and Canoe Slalom New Zealand have already held major selection races. While there are still some pieces of the jigsaw to fall into place, the final teams to head to Europe are taking shape.

In the Northern Hemisphere some selection events have already been held. In the US on the weekend qualifiers for this year’s ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships were held at the venue where the world titles will be held in Columbus, Georgia.

Spain has already begun its canoe slalom selection process, which will be held over four weekends. It will hold paracanoe selections later this week, as will Brazil, in two days of racing this weekend.

April is set to be a busy qualifying month around the world, with athletes in France, Brazil, Denmark, Slovakia, Germany, Czech Republic, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, New Zealand, Italy, USA, Great Britain and Slovenia among the nations to begin their selection processes.

In many countries qualifying for the national team is more difficult and more tense than competing in a world championships. The race for a starting bib on the Czech, French, British and Slovakian slalom team will go down to the wire, while seats on the Spanish men’s canoe sprint team and the German sprint team in general are always difficult to earn.

Missing selection for the national team this year won’t spell the end of the Olympic dream for athletes. For most countries, the slalom, sprint and paracanoe world championships represents an opportunity to earn quotas for Paris, and have no bearing on which athletes will go on to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Canoe Sprint
Canoe Slalom
Canoe Freestyle