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Canoe sprint

For centuries, canoes were used as a means of transport on a daily basis in North America, Siberia and Greenland. Primarily a tool for hunting and fishing, it first became a sport in the mid-19th century in Great Britain. Canoe sports competitions began to be seen in the middle of the 19th century. The London Royal Canoe Club, founded in 1866, was the first organisation to focus on developing this sport.

Brief overview of the rules

The canoe-kayak events include two very different disciplines that are both part of the Olympic programme: Canoe-kayak sprint and canoe-kayak slalom. Each discipline refers to two different types of boats: kayaks and canoes. Kayakers are seated and use a double-bladed paddle, whereas canoers kneel in their boat and use a single-blade paddle.

The canoe-kayak sprint events take place at a flatwater venue, like the rowing events. Races follow a straight line, with eight different lanes, and the aim is to cross the finish line first. The distances raced are 200m, 500m and 1000m. There are Olympic events for individual athletes (canoe single – C1 and kayak single – K1), pairs (canoe double – C2 and kayak double – K2) and crews of four people (kayak four – K4).

Olympic history

Canoe sprint, on the other hand, became an official Olympic sport at the Berlin 1936 Games. It had already featured as a demonstration sport at the Paris 1924 Games, and women began competing – in kayaks only – from 1948 in London.

Events in 2024

Canoe sprint events will be organised between the 6th and the 10th of August.


  • Kayak Single 1000m (men’s)
  • Kayak Single 500m (women’s)
  • Kayak Double 500m (women’s / men’s)
  • Kayak Four 500m (women’s / men’s)
  • Canoe Single 1000m (men’s)
  • Canoe Single 200m (women’s)
  • Canoe Double 500m (women’s / men’s)

Venue in 2024

International organisation

International Canoe Federation (ICF)

© Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

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