Tokyo 2020 will be on paddlers minds at the opening International Canoe Federation (ICF) Canoe Sprint World Cup due to tomorrow In Poznań tomorrow.
For a field at the Malta Regatta Course which includes numerous Olympic and World Championship medallists, this is the first of two ICF Canoe Sprint World Cups this season before the World Championships in Szeged in Hungary that will decide the first round of Olympic quota spots for Tokyo 2020.
The second World Cup is due to take place in Duisburg from May 31 until June 2.
Among the leading performers on the water in Poznań for an event due to conclude on Sunday (May 26) will be Canada’s Laurence Vincent-Lapointe, New Zealand’s Lisa Carrington, Germany’s Sebastian Brendel, Great Britain’s Liam Heath and Portugal’s Fernando Pimenta.
Vincent-Lapointe will be seeking to keep her perfect C1 200 metres record intact, ahead of the introduction of the discipline at Tokyo 2020.
Likewise Carrington, unbeaten in the women’s K1 200m since before London 2012, will be keen to send out an early message to her rivals.
Heath is returning to the K1 200m, in which he won the Olympic gold medal in Rio in 2016, after spending last season concentrating on the K4 500m
Brendel has ruled the men’s C1 1000m event since winning gold at the London 2012, but the rest of the field is closing in, led by Brazil’s Isaquias Dos Santos.
Pimenta was the break-out performer in 2018, dominating the men’s K1 1000m and winning the world title in front of a home crowd.
Team boats will also attract plenty of focus in Poznań as countries continue to experiment with line-ups ahead of Olympic qualifiers.
The men’s K4 500m will be a new event at Tokyo 2020, replacing the K4 1000m, which has forced coaches to reassess the best possible combinations.
Another highlight in Poznań is expected to be the emergence of several smaller nations such as Guam, Egypt, Cyprus, Georgia and Turkey whose athletes will be hoping to get to Tokyo next year.