Erin Schaus set to make history at Paris 2024. IPC

The International Canoe Federation (ICF) is delighted to mark International Women's Day with the announcement that there will be an equal number of male and female athletes and officials at the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

This is the first time that gender parity has been achieved among the International Technical Officials (ITOs) selected for the Canoe Sprint and Canoe Slalom events at an Olympic Games. 

A total of 48 ITOs have been selected for Paris 2024, including 24 men and 24 women. Gender parity has also been achieved in Paracanoe with nine male and nine female officials selected for the Paralympics. The announcement underlines one of the ICF's key objectives as part of its Fit for Future strategy to promote inclusion and gender equality in all aspects of canoeing. 

The ICF has made great strides in recent years, with an increase in the number of female delegates at the last Congress and more women chairing commissions. The ICF achieved gender balance in Olympic events for the first time at Tokyo 2020, with the inclusion of women's C1 200 and C2 500 in canoe sprint and women's C1 in canoe slalom. 

Major milestone in push for gender equality 

ICF President Thomas Konietzko said he was delighted that there will be gender parity among athletes and officials for Paris 2024. "It is vital that we ensure 50/50 representation at all levels of paddle sport. Today's announcement that there will be an equal number of female and male officials at the Olympic and Paralympic Games is another important milestone in our mission for gender equality," said Konietzko. 

Konitezko was elected president of the ICF in November 2021. ICF
Konitezko was elected president of the ICF in November 2021. ICF

"We are working very hard to increase the number of women in leadership roles at international, national and club level as this is vital for the future of our sport," he added. 

ICF Vice President Cecilia Farias is an experienced ITO, having been selected for six Olympic Games, including two on the jury. "I worked as an ITO at a time when the majority of the officials were men. My male colleagues were always very respectful and eager to share their experiences with me," she said. 

"Female officials have always been and will continue to be welcome in the ICF as we are all inclusive. It is fantastic that we have included more young female ITOs for the Olympics. This not only shows the strength of female participation, but also that we are making room for the new generation," Farias pointed out. 

Schaus to make history in canoe sprint 

Among the officials heading to Paris 2024 is Canada's Erin Schaus, who will be the first woman to compete in the canoe sprint. "I am super excited and really looking forward to the Olympic Games. I know it will be stressful and challenging because I will want to do my best for the athletes. I will be part of something special that not many people get to do - it's a wonderful opportunity," she said.

Schaus is no stranger to making history, having been the first female competitor at the Tokyo Paralympics and at the 2022 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in her home town of Dartmouth, where gender parity was also achieved for the first time. 

"Every time I've taken on a role, it's been a first. When I went to the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, it was the first time we had a female competitor. A year later, I was the first female starter at a World Cup and then it was the first time at a Junior World Championships, a Senior World Championships and a Paralympic Games," Schaus continued. 

"The difference between when I started, when they were trying to get gender equality, and now that we have 50-50 is awesome. There are more women in different roles, which is amazing to see," the Canadian concluded.