Olympic DebutBerlin 1936
Most Gold MedalsBirgit Fischer-Schmidt (GER)
Canoe Flatwater spotlight
Best of Tokyo 2020
Canoe sprint has two different types of craft: the kayak and the canoe. The kayak probably originates from Greenland, where it was used by the Eskimos primarily for hunting, fishing and transportation. The canoe was used all over the world as a method of transportation, trade and war. The first official sporting events utilising both of these crafts were created during the mid-19th century. Canoe sprint has been the traditional form of racing since the inception.
History and Basics
The word "kayak", means “man-boat” in Eskimo. Found predominately in North America, Siberia and Greenland, kayaks were ideal for individual transport and were used primarily for hunting and fishing. The canoe, on the other hand, was used on a wider scale. From Native American tribes to the Polynesians, the canoe had a variety uses, primarily transport, trade and warfare. The basics of canoe sprint are simple: get to the finish as fast as possible, the fastest person wins.
The design of canoes varied, depending on their use and where they were built; they varied from open-topped bark canoes to dug-out trees to 130ft war canoes. In contrast, kayaks were built to ensure icy Arctic water did not enter the boat. They were made by stretching animal skins over a wooden frame, and could generally only carry one man at a time. Kayaks are closed boats with a cockpit for sitting in. Athletes paddle from a sitting position with a double-blade paddle. Canoes are open boats paddled from a kneeling position with a single-blade paddle.