The first federation was the Internationale Repräsentantschaft für Kanusport, formed before World War II. The International Canoe Federation (ICF) was founded in 1946. Canoeing became a full medal sport at the 1936 Berlin Games.
Shorter and faster
In 1924, canoe sprint was introduced to the Olympic programme as a demonstration sport. It became a full medal sport in 1936 with both canoe and kayak events. Women began competing in kayaks from 1948. Recent trends have led away from 5,000m and 10,000m races toward shorter 200m, 500m and 1,000m competitions.
Canoe sprint vs. canoe slalom
The International Canoe Federation (ICF) covers canoeing and kayaking, and both of these crafts are used in the two main disciplines. Canoe sprint is based on pure “speed on the course” and requires a calm water surface. Canoe slalom is conducted on flowing water, rushing down a steep course where competitors attempt to negotiate a slalom course in single runs against the clock.
Despite the original origins of canoeing, a Scotsman by the name of John MacGregor would be known by many as the father of modern kayaking. He designed his own kayak, called the Rob Roy, 4m long and 75cm wide, weighing 30kg. Between 1864 and 1867 he toured the British waters and travelled throughout Europe. He founded the Royal Canoe Club in 1866. In 20 years, canoeing would become incredibly popular throughout Europe.
There are single, double and four man events. Women race 200m and 500m in a single kayak (K1) and 500m as a double (K2) and four (K4). Male kayakers compete in K1 and K2 at 200m and 1000m and in K4 at 1000m . There are currently only canoe events for men; they are performed in a single (C1) at 200m and 1,000m and double (C2) at 1,000m. In canoe slalom there is only K1, C1 and C2 for men and K1 for women, with no discrepancies over distances. As each slalom course is different and has its various nuances, the athletes must know the course well if they are to succeed.
In canoe sprint races, competitors are assigned to lanes. Women compete only in kayaks. In Canoe Slalom, the athletes race in order to achieve the best time, while making sure to follow the course accurately and without incurring a penalty to their overall time.