ICF to drop men’s K2 200m from Olympics

k2-200mThe International Canoe Federation has voted to drop mens K2 (kayak pairs) 200m sprint racing from the Olympic programme to make way for a new women’s canoe event.

Amid what insiders describe as ‘chaotic scenes’, the shock vote at an ICF Board Meeting in Peru in November followed a long and heated debate over how to admit the women’s canoe singles 200m discipline into the Olympic programme. The vote followed a long push by campaigners to achieve greater gender equity in the sport. Continue reading

Life jacket or buoyancy aid?

Press coverage after a canoeing tragedy tends to focus on the safety precautions that those involved took. Often one reads the throwaway line ‘the victim was not wearing a lifejacket’, journalistic short-hand for ‘the person involved took inadequate precautions and therefore bears some responsibility for the fact that he or she perished’.

In the case of the recent canoeing accident on Loch Gairloch in the Scottish Highlands that claimed the lives of four people, three of them children and one aged just two, one of the survivors, Garry Mackay, has described how the children were wearing what a news website described as “buoyancy aid jackets”. Continue reading

What to do when the Olympic career’s over

Olympic kayaking - a passion, but not a careerOlympic gold medalist Tim Brabants knows better than most how important it is to have a career you can turn to when the sports career finishes. The sprint kayaker is a qualified doctor and will return to medicine whenever he eventually hangs up his paddles.

He’s not “lucky”, he’s just fortunate in that he planned ahead. Others are not so fortunate. Many sportsmen and women find that after one or two decades of sacrificing absolutely everything for their sport they struggle to fit back into “normal” life, sometimes lacking the qualifications or work experience to attract an employer. Continue reading

Canoeing in Switzerland

Canoeing in Switzerland

Switzerland may be landlocked but it boasts some of the most varied canoeing in Europe – mountain-fed rapids, big lakes, wide flat rivers and relatively quick access to a host of canoeing venues in France, Germany, Italy and beyond.

I came to Geneva in 2009 and joined the local club, which is based on the Rhone. I was initially disappointed not to be canoeing on Lake Geneva, or Lac Leman as it’s known to the locals, which is the largest fresh water lake in Europe. But that disappointment was tempered by the knowledge that the high level of boat traffic and the frequent and strong regional wind, La Bise, combine to leave the water unpaddleable for all but the most hardy (and stable) canoeist. Continue reading