Olympic disciplines

There are two Olympic Canoeing Disciplines; Canoe Slalom and Canoe Sprint.

What is Canoe Slalom?

Canoe Slalom is the ultimate challenge as paddlers tackle the excitement of white water rapids, testing speed, agility and precision. Paddlers must navigate a sequence of gates in number order set up over challenging rapids, waves, eddies and currents on a 300m stretch of white water. The gates consist of pairs of poles, if the paddler touches a pole or misses a gate altogether then penalty seconds are added to their timed run (2 seconds for touching a pole with any part of their body, boat or blade, 50 seconds for missing a gate).

There are Kayak events, for men and women, in single (K1) boats, and Canoe events, for men and women in single (C1) boats and for men in double (C2) boats.

The 2016 Rio Olympic programme in Canoe Slalom comprises the following events:

  • Men’s Kayak Single (MK1)
  • Women’s Kayak Single (WK1)
  • Men’s Canoe Single (MC1)
  • Men’s Canoe Double (MC2)

This will be the last games with Men’s Canoe Double in it, Women’s C1 will be included as an Olympic discipline for the first time at the Tokyo Games in 2020.

In the team events, three boats start together and the athletes decide who leads and who follows. The three boats (K1, C1 or C2) follow each other and negotiate the gates in the quickest succession as possible. The time of the run is recorded as the last boat crosses the finish line.

What is Canoe Sprint

In Canoe Sprint events, athletes race on a straight course, each boat in a separate lane, over three different distances: 200m, 500m, 1000m.

There are Kayak events in single (K1), double (K2) and quadruple (K4) boats and Canoe events in single (C1), double (C2) and quadruple (C4) boats.

Traditionally Canoe has been exclusively for Men but there is a growing Women’s contingent and Women’s C1 (canoe single) and C2 (canoe double).

Canoe Sprint became an Olympic discipline in 1936 and its programme includes events over 200m, 500m and 1000m.

What is the difference between a kayak and a canoe
In a Kayak, the paddler is seated and uses a two-blade paddle, while in a Canoe, the paddler is kneeling on one knee, and uses a single-blade paddle.