The First Competitions
Intrepid Scottish barrister, John MacGregor was the first European to use an Inuit Kayak for tourism and excursion purposes, he also formed the first-ever kayak club “The Royal Canoe Club of London” on the 25 July 1866 in London. The first Canoeing competition, organised by MacGregor, was held in 1869. In 1871 the “New York Canoe Club” was established. The first women’s competition was organised in Russia. By the 1890s, canoe sport was popular all over the European continent.
Under the auspices of the Internationale Repräsentantenschaft Kanusport (IRK), which was formed in January 1924 in Copenhagen, the first European Championships were held on the 19 August 1933 in Prague. On the 16 May 1934 the International Olympic Committee approved the appearance of the sport of Canoeing at the Olympic Games and this was realised in 1936 at the XI Olympic Games held in Berlin. The modern International Canoe Federation (ICF) was established in 1946.
Canoe Sprint in the Olympic Games
Canoe Sprint became a full medal sport at the 1936 Berlin Games, the Women’s category was added to the Olympic programme in 1948. Canoe Sprint’s Olympic Program has varied a great deal over the years, changing and adapting in order to improve its overall standing as well as to follow current trends and boat technological advances. The program for London 2012 will consist of 12 events, eight for men and four for women. The 200m events will be an Olympic feature in London for the first time in the Women’s and Men’s K1 and the Men’s C1. Women will race over 500m in the K1, K2 and K4 and Men will race over 1000m in the K1, K2, K4 and C1 and C2. On the whole, Europe has dominated the sport, winning over 90% of all available medals.
The most successful Olympic competitor is the German Birgit Fischer who in her long Olympic career between 1980 and 2004 won 8 gold and 4 silver medals. Her achievements mark her as both once the youngest- (aged 18) and oldest-ever (aged 42) Olympic Canoe Champion. Birgit also won 28 World Championship Golds, 6 silver and 4 bronze medals throughout her career.