Canoe Sprint

Facts

Discipline of Canoeing
Participants 2513
NOCs 87
Competitions held 177 (Venues)
Distinct events 28
IF International Canoe Federation

Description

Canoeing began as a means of transportation, but competition in canoeing began in the mid-19th century. The Royal Canoe Club of London was formed in 1866 and was the first organization interested in developing the sport. In 1871, the New York Canoe Club was founded.

In 1924, canoeing was on the Olympic Program as a demonstration sport. Canoeing became a full medal sport in 1936 with both canoe and kayak events. The program has varied a great deal over the years with many events now discontinued and several new ones added. Women began Olympic canoeing in 1948, competing only in kayaks, which was the case through 2016; however, women’s Canadian events have been added to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics program. Historically, men have had more events than women at the Olympics, but in 2020 they will both contest six sprint canoe events, although they will be slightly different events.

Slalom canoeing, or whitewater canoeing, was held at the 1972 Olympics in München and returned to the Olympic Program in 1992 at Barcelona, and has been on the Olympic Program since. The two types of canoe events are often called flatwater and whitewater, or sprint and slalom, and longer distance events are often known as canoe marathon races.

The two types of canoes used are the kayak, in which the paddler sits inside a covered shell, and the Canadian, in which the paddler kneels with the top of the canoe open. The Canadian events use a single-bladed paddle, with the paddler alternating sides of the canoe for strokes, while the kayak uses a double-bladed paddle.

The events are usually designated by codes, such as K-1-500. The code indicates the type of canoe (K = kayak, C = Canadian), the number of canoeists (1, 2, or 4), followed by the distance (200, 500 or 1,000 metres). For many years, sprint races were contested over 500 or 1,000 metres, but 200 metres races were added to the Olympic Program in 2012.

Canoeing is governed worldwide by the International Canoe Federation (ICF) [in French: Fédération Internationale de Canoë (FIC)], which was founded 1946 in Stockholm. The ICF succeeded the Internationale Repräsentantenschaft Kanusport (IRK), which was created on 19 January 1924 in München, with four founding members: Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Sweden. The ICF has 166 member nations as of November 2019.

The top medal winners in Olympic canoeing history have been Sweden’s Gert Fredriksson (8) and Romania’s Ivan Patzaichin (7). Among women, Germany’s Birgit Fischer-Schmidt (12), Hungary’s Katalin Kovács (8), and Sweden’s Agneta Andersson (7) have won the most canoeing medals.

All-time medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Germany GER 30 19 13 62
Soviet Union URS 28 13 8 49
Hungary HUN 24 26 24 74
Sweden SWE 11 9 3 23
East Germany GDR 10 7 8 25
Romania ROU 9 10 14 33
New Zealand NZL 7 2 2 11
Norway NOR 6 3 3 12
Canada CAN 4 8 9 21
Spain ESP 4 7 3 14
Italy ITA 4 6 3 13
Bulgaria BUL 4 5 8 17
Czechoslovakia TCH 4 2 0 6
Denmark DEN 3 6 5 14
Australia AUS 3 5 10 18
Ukraine UKR 3 2 3 8
Great Britain GBR 3 1 4 8
Finland FIN 3 1 2 6
Russian Federation RUS 2 3 7 12
West Germany FRG 2 3 2 7
Austria AUT 2 2 4 8
Belarus BLR 2 2 4 8
United States USA 2 2 3 7
Yugoslavia YUG 2 2 1 5
Czech Republic CZE 2 1 2 5
People's Republic of China CHN 2 0 0 2
Unified Team EUN 1 1 0 2
Poland POL 0 6 13 19
France FRA 0 4 10 14
Netherlands NED 0 3 4 7
Slovakia SVK 0 3 1 4
Cuba CUB 0 3 0 3
Brazil BRA 0 2 1 3
Latvia LAT 0 2 0 2
Azerbaijan AZE 0 1 1 2
Portugal POR 0 1 0 1
Republic of Moldova MDA 0 1 0 1
Serbia SRB 0 1 0 1
Switzerland SUI 0 1 0 1
Israel ISR 0 0 1 1
Lithuania LTU 0 0 1 1
South Africa RSA 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Birgit Fischer-Schmidt GDR
GER
8 4 0 12
Danuta Kozák HUN 5 1 0 6
Ivan Patzaichin ROU 4 3 0 7
Katrin Wagner-Augustin GER 4 1 1 6
Ian Ferguson NZL 4 1 0 5
Gert Fredriksson SWE 4 0 1 5
Katalin Kovács HUN 3 5 0 8
Agneta Andersson SWE 3 2 2 7
Knut Holmann NOR 3 2 1 6
Natasa Dusev-Janics HUN
SCG
3 2 1 6

Event types

Name Gender Still contested? Times held?
Kayak Singles, 200 metres Men 2
Kayak Singles, 1,000 metres Men 19
Kayak Doubles, 200 metres Men 2
Kayak Doubles, 1,000 metres Men 19
Kayak Fours, 1,000 metres Men 14
Canadian Singles, 200 metres Men 2
Canadian Singles, 1,000 metres Men 19
Canadian Doubles, 1,000 metres Men 19
Kayak Singles, 200 metres Women 2
Kayak Singles, 500 metres Women 18
Kayak Doubles, 500 metres Women 15
Kayak Fours, 500 metres Women 9
Kayak Singles, Head to Head Boys 2
Canoe Singles, Head to Head Boys 2
Kayak Singles, Head to Head Girls 2
Canoe Singles, Head to Head Girls 1
Canoe Singles, Canoe Slalom Girls 1
Kayak Singles, 500 metres Men 9
Kayak Doubles, 500 metres Men 9
Kayak Relay 4 × 500 metres Men 1
Canadian Singles, 500 metres Men 9
Canadian Doubles, 500 metres Men 9
Kayak Singles, 800 metres Men 1
Kayak Doubles, 800 metres Men 1
Kayak Fours, 800 metres Men 1
Canadian Singles, 800 metres Men 1
Canadian Doubles, 800 metres Men 1
Canadian Fours, 800 metres Men 1