The chairs of all ten ICF disciplines were confirmed at last week’s congress in Rome, each given the responsibility of steering their sport back to pre-pandemic levels with a full calendar of events set down for 2022.
While many ICF disciplines were still able to hold competitions, especially this year, athlete and country numbers were well down because of international travel restrictions. In 2022 there will be world championships in all ten disciplines, and the big hope is fields will be full.
For all the non-Olympic and Paralympic disciplines it’s been particularly hard.
”As with all disciplines, the freedom to travel has been a massive restricting factor,” ICF ocean racing chairman, Colin Simpkin, said.”The discipline did manage to host a world championships in 2021, but many of the world’s best paddlers were not present. Until international travel is completely open, our committee will need to focus on the hosting of the world championships, as well as supporting events that will lead up to this event.”
Terry Best is the newly elected chair of the ICF’s canoe freestyle committee. He believes the global shutdown came at the worst possible time for his sport.
“Just when the discipline was on a roll, it lost total impetus and momentum,” Best said.
“Freestyle is as much about people getting together as it is about competition. Neither were possible during the pandemic. In some places the loose threads that held communities together were broken. This will mean starting again from scratch.”
Canoe marathon held a world championships in October in Romania. The event also doubled as a qualifier for next year’s The World Games, where the sport will make its official debut. Sadly, not all countries were able to attend because of Covid.
”The world championships in Bascov in 2021 was a big challenge,” marathon chair Ruud Heijselaar said.
”Due to the uncertain time it was not easy for the organisers and even one month before the event there was no “green” light for the championships.
”But in the end it was a fantastic World Cup with 34 nations and more than 600 paddlers. All credit to the organisation.”
Manuela Gawehn made history at the ICF congress when she became the first woman to be voted as chair of an ICF discipline. She takes over on the wildwater committee after a successful world championships in Bratislava, and ahead of a full world championships in Treignac, France, next year.
”For us, validation of events (during Covid) was a problem due to a lack of participation,” Gawehn said.
”Our goal now is to grow the sport at a national, regional and international level, and to increase participation by broadening our format and types of competition at all levels.
”We want to increase the number of nations outside Europe, and to simplify the rules to make everyone more open to new ideas.”
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