YOG canoe qualifiers attract record numbers in Barcelona

A record number of boats from a record number of countries are expected to take part in this week’s Youth Olympic Games canoe qualifying event in Barcelona, Spain.

More than 250 boats have entered from more than 61 nations, with six continents represented at the four-day International Canoe Federation (ICF) event that will determine which athletes will compete at this year’s Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.

The unique slalom/sprint event will be contested at the same venue that hosted sprint canoe at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

There will be 58 paddlers -29 men and 29 women – looking to lock-up YOG 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. The competition is restricted to athletes aged between 15 and 18.

Among the entries for this week are athletes from Iraq, Algeria, Armenia, Egypt, Kenya, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Sao Tome.

History has shown the Youth Olympic Games is a strong launching pad for young athletes to reach the very top level of their sport.

Among the athletes at the inaugural YOG in Singapore in 2010 were Australia’s Jessica Fox, Germany’s Tom Liebscher and Czech Jiri Priskavec, who have all gone on to win Olympic or World titles.

The YOG format is a combination of sprint and slalom (obstacle), which Fox said doesn’t tend to favour one athlete over another.

“I don’t think the slalom or sprint races reflect what we train for at world championships, but it’s great to learn from,” she said.

“It’s a different vibe because it’s head to head racing. There are a lot of outside distractions like the village, the activities, the media, the opening and closing ceremonies, and I think all these contribute to making it a really valuable experience.

“So if you do get the chance to compete at the YOG, soak up the energy and atmosphere. Focus for your races, but really make the most of every activity, event and enjoy it.”

The YOG qualifiers begin on Thursday and run through until Sunday. You can watch all the action, listen to the athletes, and follow the live results from the official ICF website.

Canoe Sprint
Canoe Slalom
Wildwater Canoeing
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