Corinna Kuhnle could have been forgiven for walking away from international canoeing after missing out on selection for last year’s Tokyo Olympics.

After a convoluted and complicated selection process, the two-time Olympian and two-time world champion came up short in her quest to get to a third Games. But at 34-years-of age, Kuhnle felt she still had a lot to learn and more to achieve in canoe slalom.

Her plan to push on received a major setback at the start of this year. Kuhnle succumbed to Covid, and then struggled to recover. She had heart problems, and physically found it hard to return to a normal life.

But, as always, her determination and fierce desire to always get the very best out of herself drove her on. Even when she was struck down with illness yet again last week, on the eve of the opening ICF world cup of the season, there was no doubt she would be back on the water soon.

“For me the year didn’t start off well health wise, I was having some troubles physically and with my heart after a Covid infection,” Kuhnle said.

“I took quite a long break from training, but now I’m back and I’m really enjoying being back in the water. It’s good to be back.”

Kuhnle is training again with the national team, and looked very comfortable on the water during her first qualifying run in Krakow. Despite two gate touches she finished tenth, to book her place in Saturday’s semi-finals.

Her raw time put her fourth fastest, with Olympic gold medalist Ricarda Funk of Germany and bronze medalist Jessica Fox of Australia ahead of her. Not that she needed it, but the result justified her decision to keep paddling.

“I don’t think there was ever a doubt that I wanted to come back to racing,” Kuhnle said.

“I still enjoy it and I’m still not finished learning. It’s good to see all the young kids coming, and putting down really good runs, and I’m trying to keep up with them.

“I’m quite happy with how I went today, I had two touches but I feel comfortable in my boat and good on the lines, so I’m happy with that.”

Pic by Balint Vekassy

Canoe Slalom
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