|Competitions held||189 (Venues)|
Canoeing began as a mean 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 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 on one knee with the top of the canoe open. The Canadian events use a single-bladed paddle, paddling on one side of the boat but keeping the boat straight by turning the paddle, while the kayak uses a double-bladed paddle, alternating sides of the canoe with alternate strokes. Kayaks also have rudders, while canoes do not. Sprint canoeing is sometimes referred to as flatwater canoeing, to differentiate it from slalom canoeing, which is often called whitewater paddling.
The Olympic 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. Historically, men have had more events than women at the Olympics, but women’s Canadian events were added to the Tokyo 2020 program, in which both genders contested six sprint canoe events (two Canadian and four kayak, although they were slightly different events).
The events are usually designated by codes, such as K1-500. 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 canoe races were contested over 500 or 1,000 metres, but 200 metre races were added to the Olympic Program in 2012.
The top nations in canoe sprint are Germany, with 65 medals and 31 golds, and Hungary, with 80 medals and 27 golds. As of 2022, the Soviet Union still holds the second position in the gold medal count, with 28 golds.
Three male sprint canoeists have won four gold medals at the Olympics: Ivan Patzaichin (ROU), Ian Ferguson (NZL) and Gert Fredriksson (SWE), with Fredriksson adding medals in canoe marathon events. Patzaichin also leads the male overall medal count, with a total of seven medals. More impressive numbers appear on the female competition. Birgit Fischer-Schmidt won 12 medals and eight golds representing Germany and East Germany, and she is followed in the table by Hungarian Danuta Kozák, with eight medals and six golds.
Canoeing is governed worldwide by the International Canoe Federation (ICF) [in French: Fédération Internationale de Canoë (FIC)], which was founded in 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. As of 2022, the ICF has 169 member nations.
|People's Republic of China||CHN||3||2||0||5|
|Republic of Moldova||MDA||0||1||1||2|
|People's Republic of China||CHN||1||3||1||5|
|Republic of Moldova||MDA||1||0||0||1|
|Birgit Fischer-Schmidt|| GDR
|Natasa Dusev-Janics|| HUN
|Name||Gender||Still contested?||Times held?|
|Kayak Singles, 200 metres||Men||3|
|Kayak Singles, 1,000 metres||Men||20|
|Kayak Doubles, 200 metres||Men||2|
|Kayak Doubles, 1,000 metres||Men||20|
|Kayak Fours, 500 metres||Men||1|
|Kayak Fours, 1,000 metres||Men||14|
|Canadian Singles, 200 metres||Men||2|
|Canadian Singles, 1,000 metres||Men||20|
|Canadian Doubles, 1,000 metres||Men||20|
|Kayak Singles, 200 metres||Women||3|
|Kayak Singles, 500 metres||Women||19|
|Kayak Doubles, 500 metres||Women||16|
|Kayak Fours, 500 metres||Women||10|
|Canadian Singles, 200 metres||Women||1|
|Canadian Doubles, 500 metres||Women||1|
|Kayak Singles, Obstacle Slalom||Boys||3|
|Kayak Singles, Head to Head||Boys||3|
|Canoe Singles, Obstacle Slalom||Boys||3|
|Canoe Singles, Head to Head||Boys||3|
|Kayak Singles, Obstacle Slalom||Girls||3|
|Kayak Singles, Head to Head||Girls||3|
|Canoe Singles, Head to Head||Girls||2|
|Canoe Singles, Obstacle Slalom||Girls||2|
|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|