At the Paralympic Games, para canoe consists of sprint events only. Athletes go head to head in single-man boats over an intense 200m course. Two types of boat are used – kayaks and outrigger canoes. In outrigger canoes, known as ‘va’as‘, athletes use a single-blade paddle to propel the boat forward. This discipline will make its Paralympic debut at the Tokyo Games, whereas it will be the second time kayak events feature on the Paralympic programme.
Brief overview of the rules
Para canoe standards are the same as those in the Olympic Games – the only difference in equipment being a kayak with a wider bottom for greater stability.
In kayak events, the paddler uses a double-bladed paddle (a shaft with a blade on both ends), whereas a single-blade paddle (a shaft with a blade on one end) is used in va’a events. Athletes paddle on one side of the boat only in va’a events; they therefore need to use a specific technique to keep the boat moving in a straight line. Unlike the oars used in rowing, the paddle is not connected to the boat. The paddler must therefore use the water for support, transferring the energy through their body into the boat to move it forward. A va’a – which means “small boat” in Polynesian languages – is traditionally used in Oceania, particularly in Tahiti.
Six kayak events (KL1, KL2 and KL3 for both women and men) and three va’a events (women’s VL2 and men’s VL2 and VL3) will be held at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Orthopaedic impairments, paraplegia, quadriplegia, cerebral palsy, degenerative neurological disorders, neurological disabilities.
International Canoe Federation: www.canoeicf.com