London 2012 Guide to…Canoeing

  • The basics: there are two types of canoeing – sprint and slalom.

At the Games there will be four slalom events (three for men, one for women) and 12 sprint (seven men, five women).

  • Slalom

For slalom canoeing, competitors work their way down a course of rapidly moving water and they must pass through a number of gates as quickly as possible.  The canoeist with the fastest combined time over the course of two runs wins.  If you touch a gate though you are given a two second penalty and if you miss a gate completely, 50 seconds is added on to your overall time.

  • Sprint

Sprint canoeing is very self-explanatory. Competitors race on flat water over a distance – usually either 500m or 1000m.

  • Canoeing history

Sprint canoeing became a full event in 1936, but slalom canoeing only arrived in 1972.

  • Main contenders for medals in London: Central Europeans

Germany will be looking to replicate their dominant form from the previous Games in Beijing, and the Slovakian Hochschorner twins are on course for a fourth consecutive gold medal in the slalom.

  • Canoeing in numbers

330 athletes will be in London to compete for a total of 16 gold medals. That’s about a one in 20 chance for Maths boffs out there.

And finally…

Look out for: the Hochschorner twins – Pavol and Peter. The Slovakian brothers are gunning for a fourth successive gold medal.

Not to be confused with: rowing, pedalo-ing, or any other similar device you can glide around on in water.

Useless but informative fact: in slalom canoeing, if a boat is upturned but the competitor manages roll back up, it’s called an eskimo roll.

Canoeing in two words: strength, balance.

Slalom events take place between 29 July and 1 August, while sprint events start on 6 August and finish on 11 August.