Paralympic Games
24 August - 5 September 2021

Australian canoe star Curtis McGrath chasing glory on two fronts

The 33-year-old defends his title as well as competing in the men’s VL3, which is in the Games programme for the first time. 01 Sep 2021
Curtis McGrath paddling in 2016
Curtis McGrath looking for a Rio repeat
ⒸAl Tielemans for OIS/IOC

Australia paddler Curtis McGrath will look to leave rivals trailing in his wake while pursuing canoe sprint glory on two fronts at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

McGrath topped the podium in men’s KL2 as canoeing made its Paralympic debut at the Rio 2016 Games. The 33-year-old will defend his title in Tokyo as well as competing in the men’s VL3, which is in the Games programme for the first time.

McGrath, who lost his legs in 2012 while serving his country as a combat engineer in Afghanistan, will be the man to beat in both disciplines having won the world title four times in KL2 and twice in VL3.

There are nine gold medals up for grabs at Sea Forest Waterway, six for kayaks (K) and three for va'a canoe (V), an outrigger canoe which has an ama (second pontoon) as a support float and is used with a single-blade paddle.

Peter Kiss of Hungary will be a strong contender in men’s KL1, having announced his emergence as a rising star by claiming gold in the 2019 world championships aged 16.

Great Britain topped the sport's medal table at Rio 2016 with five, including three golds and a silver in the women’s events.

Jeanette Chippington of Great Britain,  a 12-time Paralympic medallist in swimming, will defend the women's KL1 title she won five years ago, while countrywoman Emma Wiggs bids to win a second successive gold in the women's KL2 as well as contesting the VL2 as world champion.

"There's only a few of us in the world competing in va’as, and that is because it's really odd," Wiggs said.

“The kayak is taking a hit because of all the extra work I had to put in in the va'as, it’s a real challenge having to split training between two boats, but I love both the boats."

The KL2 title is likely to be decided in a showdown between Wiggs and her teammate Charlotte Henshaw who triumphed in the class at the last two world championships. 

Canoeists from 29 NPCs will hit the water in Tokyo, including Anas Al Khalifa of the Refugee Paralympic Team (RPT).

Competition gets under way on Thursday with the first medals awarded on Friday.