ICF supremo lauds London 2012 as "resounding success" following wild acclaim for canoe sprinting
Saturday, 18 August 2012
August 18 - International canoeing chief José Perurena López has hailed his sport's competition at the recent London 2012 Olympics "a resounding success", with the newly introduced 200 metres sprint discipline earning a rapturous response from fans.
The short-distance event (pictured top) was quickly dubbed sprint canoeing's version of cricket's high-octane Twenty20, with the explosive format bringing the enthralled crowds to their feet – and there is likely to be an even bigger feast to savour in forthcoming Games.
Its popularity with Olympic spectators who enjoyed the action at Eton Dorney – which also hosted rowing – delighted the President of the International Canoe Federation (ICF), who also paid tribute to the ecstatic reception fans afforded to the equally spectacular slalom action at Lee Valley White Water Centre.
Tens of thousands of fans crammed into both Eton Dorney, where Hungary and Germany gained an equal share of half the golds available from the 12 events held over six days, and Lee Valley, from where France emerged with two of the four first-place medals on offer during the five-day competition.
However, neither Hungary nor Germany were able to prevail in the 200m races – which, insisted Perurena López, has vindicated the ICF's efforts to spread the canoeing word across the world.
Hosts Great Britain, Russia, Ukraine and New Zealand claimed the four gold medals up for grabs in the short sprints.
"Before we had 1,000m and 500m, and normally the same athletes competed [for the medals] in both," he said.
"But now we have totally different athletes; there are more medals for more countries, more possibilities to concentrate the athletes on one distance and to specialise."
He added: "I will push for more events in the 200.
"The 1,000 for men and 500 for women are our traditional distance but the 200 is more important for the television and more exciting for the spectators."
Perurena López also revealed there is likely to be a greater number of women's events at future Games – most likely from 2024 – in a bid to redress the balance with the number of men's competitions.
Following a move by British high-kneeling canoeist Samantha Rippington, who was reportedly prepared to launch a legal challenge over a perceived inequality in the Olympic canoeing programme, López responded: "It's clear that for future Olympic Games we want to have equality among the men and women events.
"It will work – I don't know [about] 2020, but sure in 2024 there will be equality.
"It's not possible that we continue without including ladies in all the events in the Olympic Games."
Although the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has taken a positive first step by agreeing to ICF proposals to include women's canoe events on the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics programme in Nanjing, Perurena López stressed the senior Olympics could be a different kettle of fish.
"The problem for us is also the quota [of events in canoeing]," he said.
"We have a very small quota; we need more quota places if we want to include more women.
"Without that it's difficult."
August 2012: McKeever strikes gold for Britain in "Twenty20" kayak sprint
July 2012: Female canoeist takes London 2012 to court claiming gender inequality in the sports programme