The canoes and kayaks have barely had time to dry since the Tokyo Olympic Games, but in six months’ time at London’s Lee Valley the world’s best athletes will need to put everything on the line again as they battle to earn a place at next year’s Olympic Games in London.
The 2023 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships will also double as the Paris 2024 Olympic qualifiers, a chance for athletes to earn country quotas for the Games. It’s a cut-throat competition, with each country only able to earn one quota per event.
The 2012 Olympic venue also hosted the Olympic qualifiers in 2015 ahead of the Rio Games, an event full of thrills, surprises and upsets. Great Britain’s Joe Clarke and France’s Denis Gargaud Chanut, who went on to win Olympic gold in the K1 and C1 respectively in Brazil, did not even make the finals at the Olympic qualifiers.
Spain’s Maialen Chourraut, the women’s K1 gold medalist in Rio, finished fifth in London at the qualifiers.
Generally those who become world champions the year before the Olympics haven’t gone on to win Games’ gold. Czech Jiri Prskavec bucked the trend in the men’s K1 in Tokyo, the first athlete since Slovakia’s Michal Martikan pulled off the double in 2007-08 in the men’s C1.
This year in London 15 quotas in each of the men’s and women’s K1 will be on offer, and 12 in each of the men’s and women’s C1. The three quotas in each of the men’s and women’s kayak cross won’t be decided until a special qualifying event in early 2024.
This year’s world championships is likely to be the last for several of the world’s best paddlers of the past decade or longer. Two-time world champion and 2016 Olympic silver medalist, Peter Kauzer, extended his career by three years after initially planning to retire after Tokyo, while another four-time Olympian and Games silver medalist, New Zealand’s Luuka Jones, has also announced this will be her last campaign.
This is likely to also be the last world championships for Olympic gold medalists Chourraut and Gargaud Chanut, while Slovakia’s Alexander Slafkovsky and Austria’s Corinna Kuhnle have both mentioned retirement, however are continuing to race.
The 2023 ICF Canoe Slalom and Kayak Cross World Championships will be held from September 19 until the 24th at London’s Lee Valley.
From International Canoe Federation