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Canoe Sprint


Canoe sprint has two different types of craft, the kayak and the canoe. The kayak probably originates from Greenland, where it was used by the Eskimos, primarily for hunting, fishing and transportation. The canoe was used all over the world as a method of transportation, trade and war. The first official sporting events were created utilising both of these crafts during the mid-19th century. Canoe sprint has been the traditional form of racing since the inception.

History and basics

The word kayak, meaning “man-boat” in Eskimo, was found predominately in North America, Siberia and Greenland. They were ideal for individual transport and were used primarily for hunting and fishing. The canoe, on the other hand, was used on a wider scale. From Native American tribes to the Polynesians, the canoe had a variety uses, primarily transport, trade and warfare. The basics of Canoe sprint are simple. Get to the finish as fast as possible, the fastest person wins.

Canoe/kayak différences

The design of canoes varied, depending on their use and where they were built; they varied between open-topped bark canoes to dug-out trees to 130ft war canoes. In contrast, kayaks were built to ensure icy Arctic water did not enter the boat. They were made by stretching animal skins over a wooden frame and could generally only carry one man at a time. Kayaks are closed boats with a cockpit for sitting in. Athletes paddle from a sitting position with a double-blade paddle. Canoes are open boats paddled from a kneeling position with a single-blade paddle.

First competition

Canoe sport competitions began in the mid-19th century. The Royal Canoe Club of London was formed in 1866 and was the first organisation interested in developing the sport. In 1871 the New York Canoe Club was founded. The first women’s competition was organised in Russia. By the 1890s, canoe sport was popular all over the European continent. Since canoe sprints entered the Olympics in 1936, its events have changed and adapted in order to improve its overall standing and follow current trends and boat technological advances.

Olympic history

In 1924 in Paris, flatwater canoeing featured at the Games as a demonstration sport. It became an Olympic discipline in Berlin in 1936. Later, some of its events disappeared to make way for new ones.

Overall, Europe dominates this sport, at both the Olympic Games and the World Championships, winning 90 per cent of the medals up for grabs. Since the 1948 Games in London, women have competed in the kayak event only. Today, the Olympic canoe/kayak flatwater programme comprises a total of 12 events.

The recent trend is towards reducing the course distance. At the beginning, in the World Championships, the courses were staged over 1,000 and 10,000 metres for men and 5,000 metres for women. Today, they are over distances of 200, 500 and 1 000 metres. The Olympic events take place over 500 and 1,000 metres.

For the 2012 Games in London, the three men’s flatwater 500 metres events will be replaced by 200m events. 

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Gallery

Buenos Aires 2018 - Canoe - K1 - Head to Head Sprint - Women
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Buenos Aires 2018 - Canoe - K1 - Head to Head Sprint - Women

Rebeca D Estefano of Argentina in action during the Canoeing K1 Head to Head Sprint Women's Quarterfinals on Day 6 of the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games at the Dieques Puerto Madero, Urban Park on October 12, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
IOC/OIS
Buenos Aires 2018 - Canoe - K1 - Head to Head Sprint - Women
Image Alt Text

Buenos Aires 2018 - Canoe - K1 - Head to Head Sprint - Women

Eszter Rendessy of Hungary in action during the Canoeing K1 Head to Head Sprint Women's Quarterfinals on Day 6 of the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games at the Dieques Puerto Madero, Urban Park on October 12, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
IOC/OIS
Buenos Aires 2018 - Canoe - C1 - Head to Head Sprint - Men
Image Alt Text

Buenos Aires 2018 - Canoe - C1 - Head to Head Sprint - Men

Dias Bakhraddin of Kazakhstan in action during the Canoeing C1 Head to Head Sprint Men's Quarterfinals on Day 6 of the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games at theDiques Puerto Madero, Urban Park on October 12, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
IOC/OIS
Canoe Sprint - K-2 1000m Men
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Canoe Sprint - K-2 1000m Men

Sebastian Brendel of Germany and Jan Vandrey of Germany compete on their way to winning the Men's Canoe Double 1000m on Day 15 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Lagoa Stadium on August 20, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
Canoe Sprint - K-4 500m Women
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Canoe Sprint - K-4 500m Women

Wenjun Ren, Qing Ma, Yue Li and Haiping Liu of People's Republic of China compete in the Women's Kayak Four 500m on Day 15 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Lagoa Stadium on August 20, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
Canoe Sprint - K-4 1000m Men
Image Alt Text

Canoe Sprint - K-4 1000m Men

Max Rendschmidt, Tom Liebscher, Max Hoff and Marcus Gross of Germany compete on their way to winning the gold medal in the Men's Kayak Four 1000m Finals on Day 15 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Lagoa Stadium on August 20, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
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