It has been the race of reference for Canoe Sprint athletes and enthusiasts all over the world, and even before the starting gun has gone off at the 2011 Canoe Sprint World Championships, records have already been broken. Szeged, Hungary, a city that has canoeing intertwined in its history, and is renowned for its passion for the sport and its celebrity canoeists, will host athletes from a whopping 94 countries, and a massive number of paracanoe athletes, 74 in total, have registered to compete this week. It is the first time the event will be recognized as a paraolympic sport. The venue of the Championships is the Maty-ér Regatta Course which is acknowledged to be one of the best courses in the world and is a firm favourite among many of canoeing’s elite.
Racing kicks off in Szeged this Thursday 18 August, concluding on Sunday 21 August, with the opening ceremony being held on Wednesday 17 August.
International canoeing sport is going through its most dynamic phase of development as proven by the incredible number of entries in the women’s discipline. In the K-1 200m event, 55 nations have entered their competitors which is an outstanding number of entries and would have been unimaginable a few years ago.
The ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships is the first (and for some the only) opportunity to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. To say this is foremost in the New Zealand athletes minds would be an understatement, and the events they race have been chosen very strategically. With the first of the races commencing tomorrow evening NZ time excitement levels are sure to be running high in the NZ camp. First to hit the water will be Olympic medallist Ben Fouhy in the Mens K1 1000m followed by K2 paddlers Olympian Steven Ferguson and Darryl Fitzgerald. Both Fouhy and Ferguson have been here before and for each of these stellar athletes Olympic glory is everything.
The Mens K4 of Scott Bicknell, Troy Burbidge, Liam O’Loughlin and Fred Teear, is an unknown quantity as the combination is new, but the time trials back home indicated a very competitive team despite their comparative lack of experience.
Friday sees Teneale Hatton in the K1 500m, and Lisa Carrington and Erin Taylor in the K2 500m. Hatton gained much of her international success in past years in the K2, the K1 is a challenge she has worked hard for and she’s determined to make qualification in this event. The relatively new combination of Carrington and Taylor has been tracking steadily over the past few months since the World Cup where they admit they didn’t achieve the results they were after.
On Saturday Lisa Carrington, fresh off a gold medal performance at World Cup 3, takes her first crack at the womens K1 200m. She was hugely underestimated in Duisburg where she took out the gold to the consternation her rivals, but no doubt they won’t be making the same mistake twice.
NZ Racing Schedule
Event Competitor Progression Szeged Time NZ Time
Mens K1 1000m Ben Fouhy Heats Thurs 9.30am Thurs 7.30pm
Semis Thurs 2.40pm Fri 12.40am
Mens K2 1000m Steven Ferguson & Darryl Fitzgerald Heats Thur 11.01am Thurs 9.00pm
Semis Thurs 3.43pm Fri 1.43am
Mens K4 1000m Scott Bicknell, Troy
O’Loughlin, Fred Teear Heats Fri 10.16am Fri 8.16pm
Semis Fri 12.59pm Fri 10.59pm
Wom K1 200 Lisa Carrington Heats Sat 8.52am Sat 6.52pm
Semis Sat 11.02am Sat 9.02pm
Wom K1 500m Teneale Hatton Heats Fri 9.30am Fri 7.30pm
Semis Fri 11.20am Fri 9.20pm
Wom K2 500m Lisa Carrington & Erin
Taylor Heats Fri 8.00am Fri 6.00pm
Semis Fri 12.25pm Fri 10.25pm