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The seventh edition of the International congress of canoeing coaches in Catoira, Spain, will bring many interesting presentations from canoe sprint experts coming from Spain, Hungary, Italy, Great Britain and Ukraine.

Before attendees exchange knowledge we have checked what the future of canoe sprint might look like. We have talked with two-times Olympic medallist Martin Marinov who first competed for Bulgaria and then switched for Australia. He is now the ICF’s Canoe Sprint and Calmwater Technical Manager and therefore the one who was able to offer us a sneak peek where the sport might go in the following years.

Q: We are two years away from the Olympic Games in Tokyo, so there are not big changes to be expected before that, but in the next Olympic cycle – in what direction can we expect the canoe sprint will move?

MM: For the 2024 Paris the idea is to keep the current Olympic programme as it is or with minor changes. ICF will lobby to get more quotas if possible. Current number quotas are not enough to create a big competition for those twelve events. It is very unlikely to get more quotas, but we have to ask at any possible time. We wish to have two more events/medals for canoe sprint. They can be just temporarily ones – only for 2024, but we must show the IOC that we have ideas and can be creative in the way to make the new Olympic programme more spectacular.

Q: How do you shape the future of canoe sprint? Do you involve in talks also competitors and coaches?

MM: My personal goal is to get sprint canoeing up to a level where other big sports are. I would like to see canoeing as one of the biggest sports around the globe with many participants and activities in our disciplines. As an athlete and a coach I always pay full respect to athletes’ and coaches’ opinions and suggestions. Of course we receive many ideas and can’t implement all of them, or many times the suggestions are more selfish instead with a global view, but many of the suggestions and ideas are great and give me different perspective and a different view on the problems plus interesting solutions. Looks like many people support mixed events (men and women). There are two different opinions – mixed doubles or mixed relays. We have to explore which one is more attractive, easy achievable, what will be the long term development and demands, etc. There are discussions how we can extend the competition season for our sport, how we can make it more attractive and users’ friendly and that we need to create big superstars.

Q: Recently two special races were organised in China and Russia. What was the feedback from the athletes and coaches?

MM: The feedback from athletes, organisers, TV viewers, coaches, leaders was great. They were very professional organised and well promoted. The top athletes from four different categories – men kayak, women kayak, men canoe and women canoe – are much closer friends now, sharing their views, ideas and problems. All invited athletes would be happy to participate next year if they are invited. Of course we have to improve some areas but in general everything was positive.

Q: Were some things so good at these events in China and Russia that you plan to include them in World Cup and World Championships?

MM: In the short preparation period we had to drop many of the innovative ideas, which most likely will be tested next season at the same format competition(s). We still tested mixed doubles and non-standard distance. Next year we plan to test mixed double at other ICF events. Non-standard distances confirmed our thinking that it is possible to adjust the length of the competition in regards to be able to run competitions at smaller and non-standard racing courses or lakes.


More information on Congress in Catoira:

Register here:

Event bulletin (PDF):

Workshops bulletin (PDF):

Poster (PDF):

Source: European Canoe Association.


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