Para canoe Worlds: 5 things we learned

Old faces show they’re still the ones to beat on the water 02 Sep 2017
a male and a female Para canoeist celebrate on the water

Curtis McGrath (L) and Emma Wiggs proved they're still top of their game at the Para canoe Worlds

ⒸGetty Images

The 2017 International Canoe Federation (ICF) Para Canoe World Championships were the first major test for athletes since the sport’s Paralympic debut at Rio 2016.

A week has passed since the Championships finished on 26 August in Racice, Czech Republic. Here are some takeaways from the races:

1. McGrath still the man

After experimenting with rowing post-Rio 2016, Australia’s Curtis McGrath decided to stick with canoe and stamped his dominance in the men’s KL2. He defended his World title from 2015 a year after beating Austrian legend Markus Swoboda to Paralympic gold. Now after his golds in Racice, including the non-Paralympic Va’a event, the question is who can challenge McGrath?

2. Wiggs still the woman

A similar story goes for the women’s KL2 event. Great Britain’s reigning Paralympic champion Emma Wiggs has dominated every World Championships since 2013. In Racice, she won by nearly two seconds ahead of compatriot Nicola Paterson – the third straight time she has beaten her at the Worlds.

3. New faces

With canoe among the two new sports added to the Paralympic programme at Rio 2016, there has been an influx of new athletes into the sport from other Para disciplines. British swimmer Charlotte Henshaw switched to canoe, while Sweden’s Helene Ripa took up the sport after retiring from Nordic skiing. Both made their Worlds debut in the sport last week but failed to medal, showing that years of experience in another Para sport does not automatically transition to quick success.

4. Up in the air

The men’s KL1 remains the most unpredictable event in the sport as the world title again changed hands. Italy’s Esteban Gabriel Farias took this year’s title after defending champion China’s Yu Xiaowei did not compete in Racice. While in a major shock Paralympic champion Jakub Tokarz from Poland did not even reach the podium at this year’s Worlds.

5. Australia and Great Britain remain strongest nations

Australia and Great Britain showed their dedication to investment in the sport with a strong showing in Racice. Australia took home five medals – all gold. Great Britain collected seven, three being Worlds titles. Both saw success across the kayak and non-Paralympic Va’a events. Expect to see both nations bring even stronger teams to future events.