Top 5 tips to get started in Para canoe from teenage champion Peter Pal Kiss

Nineteen-year-old Paralympic gold medallist says the best way to improve in Para canoe is to find the right positioning for your seat and paddles, but also to absolutely love the sport 11 Oct 2022
A male athlete in a kayak pumps his fist
Peter Pal Kiss won gold in the men's kayak single KL1 event at his debut Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
ⒸThomas Lovelock/OIS

Hungarian Para canoeist Peter Pal Kiss has beaten time and again athletes who are much older and much more experienced than him. 

He became a world champion in 2019 at age 16 and won gold in the men’s kayak single KL1 at the Tokyo 2020 Games in his Paralympic debut.

Kiss credits swimming lessons for giving him a positive attitude about life after an illness paralysed his legs when he was eight years old. It was also through swimming that he was introduced to Para canoe.

A breakout star since taking up the sport, Kiss first stole the show at the Szeged 2019 Para Canoe World Championships in Hungary, winning gold in the men’s KL1 200m event just three years after he started paddling.

Last year, he became the youngest medallist in Para canoe at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Kiss has continued his domination on the international stage since then, topping the podium in his signature event at the World Championships in August 2022.

“What I like most in my sport is its versatility,” the young athlete said. “You can do it competitively, you can do it only focusing on the performance, but you can also add it to your vacation, where you can just trickle down the river admiring the nature together with the others.”

Interested in picking up a paddle? The Paralympic champion offers tips on how to get started in his favourite sport.

1. Find a good sitting position in the boat

Having stability in the boat is very important when it comes to what you can achieve. It may require a lot of experiments, but they are worth it if you can have the right settings.

2. Have proper setting of your paddles

First of all, depending on how strong or nimble you are, the size of the paddle’s feather is important because of the stroke rate. In addition, the rotation angle can also be adjusted, which can affect your rowing technique.

3. Learn to have good control of the water

Let’s catch the water in front – there is great force, so the paddle reaches next to our trunk. Then take the power nicely and prepare to take the paddle out of the water. If you continue to pull it, you will only slow down the boat.

4. Train with intensity

The quality of training is very important. Of course, I think that the work put into the sport counts the most because kayak-canoe is a very challenging sport, both physically and mentally. Drive hard!

5. Enjoy!

I really like sports, so I am probably a bit biased and see the beauty in it. But I think it’s very enjoyable. It’s definitely exciting to do! Love what you do because that is the only way you can really be good at it!