Published on October 20th, 2023 | by Paddleworld
Picture a spectacle where over 300 athletes hailing from upwards of 50 nations are fiercely competing for a precious few golden tickets that ensure their entry into the upcoming Paris Olympics next year…
This Willy Wonka-like scenario is no fantasy. This is the scene which will unfold at London’s Lee Valley Whitewater Centre next week as the world’s best canoe and kayak slalom athletes will go head-to-head in the battle for Paris 2024 quotas.
Unlike Willy Wonka, there will be next to no luck involved for the 302 athletes in action next week. Maybe something might fall right for them on the day, but mostly their final result is completely in their hands.
The important numbers are 15 for kayak, 12 for canoe. These are the total number of country quotas up for grabs over the four days of canoe slalom action on the course which brought so much excitement and celebration during the London Olympics just over one decade ago.
Its important to remember, an athlete can only earn one quota for their country. The same athlete can not earn both a kayak and canoe ticket, and if they do finish first for their country in both, the canoe quota trumps the kayak berth.
As there will be only 10 athletes in each final, and a strong chance some countries will have more than one paddler in that final, the quota allocation will run deep into the semi-final results.
The last time Lee Valley hosted a world championships was in 2015, which was also an Olympic qualifying event. On that occasion hundreds of athletes were vying to earn their country a ticket for Rio 2016. Dreams were realised and hearts were broken during a thrilling competition befitting the lead-up to an Olympic Games.
All will not be lost for countries who don’t earn a quota in London. Continental qualifiers in Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas will provide a final opportunity for nations to earn their place in Paris. Europe has already had its qualifiers, at this year’s European Games in Krakow.
No kayak cross quotas will be allocated next week, however countries who earn slalom tickets will be allowed to enter a maximum of two athletes in the new Olympic event next year. Three kayak cross quotas for both men and women will be up for grabs in Prague in 2024, but will be available only for athletes who have not yet earned their country a Games quota.
The full Paris 2024 qualifying details can be found here.
The 2023 ICF Canoe Slalom and Kayak Cross World Championships begin on September 19 and run through to September 24. The official event website can be accessed here.
An international media guide for the event can be downloaded from here.