Paralympic Games
7-18 September

Sport Week: Introduction to para-canoe

Everything you need to know about para-canoe, ahead of its Paralympic debut at Rio 2016. 07 Mar 2016 By Laura Godenzi | For the IPC

Editor’s note: Each sport on the Rio 2016 Paralympic programme will have a dedicated week of featured content published on the IPC’s website. The IPC begins this series with six months to go until Rio 2016 (7 March) and will run until September’s Games, helping the public understand more about the 22 sports being contested in Rio.

Para-canoe will be one of two sports making its debut at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, making this year a milestone for the sport.

As we go into the week, here are some quick hits about para-canoe.

The boats

The two main boats are the kayak and va’as boats. Whilst the kayaks are the main para-canoe boats and are propelled by a double-blade paddle, the latter are outrigger canoes propelled by a single-blade paddle. Only kayaks will be contested at Rio.


Athletes are put into one of the three categories – KL1, KL2 or KL3, according to the abilities they have. The larger the number, the less severe an impairment an athlete has. Check back at later this week for an article on para-canoe classification)

Six Paralympic medal events

Athletes will race against each other on kayaks over a 200m course for both men and women in KL1, KL2 and KL3 classes.

Where and when to watch it?

Para-canoe events will be held at the Lagoa Stadium, not too far from Copacabana Beach, between 14-16 September. Check back at for more on the venue where canoeists will compete.

Getting to Rio…

Para-canoe is a young sport which developed during the start of the century thanks to big efforts of the sport’s governing body International Canoe Federation (ICF) and International Va Federation (IVF), who both pushed for the inclusion of para-canoe within abled-bodied competitions.

In 2009, the ICF organised the first para-canoe showcase event, which was a big success. One year later, para-canoe had its first World Championships and was included into the Paralympic programme at the IPC Governing Board meeting in Guangzhou, China.

Helpful links

IPC para-canoe webpage.

Rio 2016 para-canoe webpage.

ICF webpage.

Para-canoe on Facebook and Twitter @PlanetCanoe.

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