International Canoe Federation (ICF) Canoe Marathon World Cup races are due to be held in China for the first time from tomorrow as athletes descend on the 2019 World Championship host city Shaoxing for a weekend of competition.
It is hoped the races will provide an opportunity for Shaoxing 2019 organisers to develop their plans and also for many international paddlers to familiarise themselves with the venue.
Forty senior athletes, representing 24 countries from across all five continents, have been invited to attend, based upon results from the 2016 World Championships in Brandenburg in Germany.
They are being provided with boats by the Chinese Canoe Association.
The invited paddlers are joined by a large number of Chinese counterparts seeking to test themselves on the world stage.
For the seniors, this weekend offers both the normal-distance and short-course races, while the juniors are racing over the short-course distance.
The senior women K1 field will be headed by six of the top 10 at the 2017 World Championships in South African city Pietermaritzburg.
Among them is bronze medallist Jenny Egan of Ireland, fourth-placed Eva Barrios of Spain and fifth-placed Anna Koziskova of the Czech Republic.
The senior men K1 races include the silver and bronze medal winners from the 2017 World Championships; South Africa’s Andrew Birkett and Hungary’s Adrian Boros respectively.
The senior C1 classes also promise open racing with the men’s field led by Portugal’s Nuno Barros, who finished fourth at the 2017 World Championships.
The women’s race is entirely comprised of athletes from China and Hong Kong.
The junior classes are made up solely of young Chinese paddlers, including 46 in the women’s K1, 56 in the men’s K1 and 35 in the men’s C1.
Next week, the athletes will move onto a second series of races in Chinese city Shanghai.