Sport Week: Para-canoeists to watch for at Rio 2016

Here are seven athletes vying for the sport’s first Paralympic gold medals. 12 Mar 2016
Austria's Mendy Swoboda won his second world title in the para-canoe K1 men’s 200m TA event.

Austria's Mendy Swoboda.

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.

Edina Müller (GER)

Müller was part of the London 2012 women’s wheelchair basketball gold medal team. In 2014, Müller switched to para-canoe and captured silver in the 200m KL1 at the 2015 European Championships in Racice, Czech Republic. She finished runner-up to Great Britain’s Jeannette Chippington at the 2015 World Championships but looks to upset at Rio 2016.

Jeanette Chippington (GBR)

Before becoming para-canoes’ most decorated female athlete with six world titles, Chippington was a very successful swimmer, having won 12 Paralympic medals. In 2011, Chippington picked up para-canoe and the three-time world champion is the favourite in the KL1.

Markus Swoboda (AUT)

Swoboda is the standout athlete in the para-canoe scene, winning six world titles since he took up the sport in 2010. He has been competing against able-bodied paddlers since he took up the sport. Without a doubt, the Austrian is the man to beat in the men’s KL2 race in Rio.

Curtis McGrath (AUS)

McGrath has turned into one of the top paddlers in the recent years. In 2012 he lost both of his legs while stepping on a landmine, and two years later he won the 200m VL2 race in his first international appearance. In preparation for Rio 2016, he has set his focus on the 200m KL2 race. In fact, he is Swodoba’s main contender. At the 2015 World Championships, McGrath broke the Austrian’s five year winning strike in the heats. He ended up second in the finals.

Luis Cardoso (BRA)

Cardoso won his first 200m KL1 title back in 2013 but could not repeat his success the following year. In 2015, he decided to fully focus on the 200m KL1 and his strategy was successful. At the 2015 World Championships, he secured the 200m KL1 title in his category, which equalled a spot at the Paralympics for his country.

Amanda Reynolds (AUS)

Reynolds took third at the 2014 World Championships in Moscow, Russia. Just one year later in Milan, Italy, she came back stronger and competed in the unforgettable women’s 200m KL3 race. After a bad start, Reynolds managed to catch up on Great Britain’s Anne Dickins and in the end a tiny margin of 0.02 seconds brought glory to Reynolds.

Emma Wiggs (GBR)

Wiggs competed at London 2012 in volleyball team. After London she was on the search for a new sport and found canoe. In 2014, Wiggs won her first set of international medals claiming the World Championships titles in the K1 and V1 200m. A year later, she sealed the title again in the 200m KL2 and secured Great Britain a spot at Rio 2016.