Athletes – who are they?

The athletes are really the very heart of the Olympics and today LOCOG finally published the official list of the paddlers for the canoe slalom. See London2012 website, ICF or BBC where you will find individual athlete profiles. Many are now in London preparing and settling into the Olympic village.

After yesterday’s post on the Competition Schedule for canoe slalom at Lee Valley it seems sensible today to provide some insights into the paddlers representing their nations in 11 days time. There is some change from the original qualification previously described. I have updated yesterday’s post accordingly. There will be:
22 K1M
21 K1W
17 C1
14 C2

So a couple of extra boats have gained qualification, including two C2 boats, one from Great Britain and one from the Czech Republic made up of a K1M and C1 paddler from the individual classes. This means that 30 nations will be represented in the Olympic canoe slalom event from North & South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australasia. The number of countries making up the respective classes are therefore as follows:
K1M – 22
K1W- 21
C1 – 17
C2 – 12

Here is my guide on the previous medallists, class by class:
In K1M:
Helmet Oblinger from Austria who was 4th in Sydney and 7th in Beijing;
Vavrinec Hradilek from Czech Republic who was World Championship silver medallist in 2010;
Eoin Rheinish from Ireland who was 4th in Beijing;
Daniele Molmenti from Italy who was the 2010 World Champion;
Mateusz Polaczyk from Poland who was World Championship silver medallist in 2011;
Peter Kauzer from Slovenia who is reigning World Champion. Peter is currently ranked ICF number 1 so will be the last K1M to go in the heat;
Benjamin Boukpeti from Togo who was Beijing Olympic bronze medallist;
Scott Parsons from USA who was 6th at the Athens Olympics.
In K1W:
Jessica Fox from Australia, Youth Olympic champion who retained her Junior World Championship title last week;
Corinna Kuhnle from Austria who is twice and reigning World Champion;
Stepanka Hilgertova from Czech Republic who was Olympic Champion both in Atlanta and Sydney as well as double World Champion from 1999 and 2003. She is the only canoe slalom athlete to have competed in all 6 Olympics;
Maialen Chourraut from Spain who is the bronze medallist from the World Championships;
Jasmin Schornberg from Germany who was the 2009 World Champion;
Lizzie Neave from Great Britain who won a bronze medal at the World Championships in 2009;
Jana Dukatova from Slovakia who is the twice silver medallist from World Championships. She was World Champion in 2006 and is current ICF number 1 athlete meaning she will be last to go from the start in the heats of the K1W.
In C1:
Stanislav Jezek from Czech Republic who won bronze at the 2006 World Championship in Prague;
Tony Estanguet from France who was Olympic Champion in Sydney & Athens and 3 time World Champion;
David Florence from Great Britain who was Olympic silver medallist in Beijing and ICF number 1 athlete meaning he will be last to go from the start in the heats of the C1;
Michal Martikan from Slovakia who has two Olympic titles from Atlanta and Beijing as well as being 4 time World Champion.
In C2:
Jaroslav Volf and Ondrej Stepanek from the Czech Republic who were Olympic bronze medallists in Athens and silver medallists in Beijing;
David Florence and Richard Hounslow bronze medallists from the World Championships in 2010;
Mikhail Kuznetsov and Dmitry Larionov from Russia who were bronze medallists from Beijing;
Luka Bozic and Saso Taljat from Slovenia who were bronze medallists at the World Championships in 2009;
Pavlov & Peter Hochschorner from Slovakia who have four consecutive World Championship titles and 3 consecutive Olympic titles to their name. They are the ICF number 1 athletes meaning they will be last boat to go from the start in the heats of the C2.

The list above does not detract from the 56 other athletes who have won qualification as the one boat per class for the Olympics. I will discuss the merits of this in tomorrow’s post. Canoe Slalom is also unpredictable enough that someone who has not medalled before at Olympics or World Championships can produce the ‘Ultimate Run’ that every one is wishing to attain; thinking of Benjamin Boukpeti in Beijing or Shaun Pearce winning the 1991 World Championships in Tacen. For the full list of London2012 canoe slalom athletes in the respective four classes click here.

20120717-230701.jpg

In the posts coming up this week we will take a look at the significance of the Olympics versus World Championships, World Cup and European Championships. We will also reflect on last week’s Junior and U23 World’s which have just wrapped up in Wausau, Wisconsin, USA. What implication does this have on London2012 or on future Olympics? Finally this week we will describe how funding and sponsorship have been at the heart of how the sport has evolved since Canoe Slalom become a permanent fixture in the Olympics on July 29th 1992 at La Seu d’Urgell.

I apologise sincerely for any errors in the above lists. Forgive me but please comment and correct me!

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