Kayaks At The Olympic Kayaking History(Win Player, History, Video)
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Kayaks at the Olympic Games History
Olympic Kayaking History: Kayaking is known as a water sport, which despite the fact that nowadays it is practiced recreationally by anyone who loves outdoor crossings on rivers or seas, in its beginnings it was only part of the lifestyle of people who used this type of boat to move from one place to another.
This practice originated from North America and was brought to the European continent a few centuries ago, and since then, its evolution has been constant until it became what it is today: a sport that is part of the Olympic games, despite the fact that many times We forget about the kayakers until the games come.
History of the Olympic games and kayaking
Kayaking became part of the Olympic Games in 1936. Of course, this was one of the most important discoveries since its appearance on the European continent in the 19th century brought by Scotsman John McGregor.
Its evolution in this continent was growing by leaps and bounds since its first entry, which caused the first kayaking championship to be held in 1919, which was held in Germany, and in which different competitors from all over the continent participated.
In this way, after this important event where kayaking was the main sport in the competition, the practice continued to expand rapidly until it became part, in 1936, of the Olympic games held in Berlin. From that moment the sport was officially recognized.
However, after all these Olympic events, the evolution of the kayak did not stop. All this evolution not only focused on the knowledge of the practice and inclusion as an official sport of the Olympic games but went further, highlighting changes in traditional boats, which, even without losing the essence, added greater functionality and adaptability to different environments or different types of competition.
Later in the article, we will see several videos on the different types of kayaking in the Olympic games, but in these two videos we can see how this sport has evolved over the years:
The first known kayaks were made of wood and leather, which as a measure to adapt to low temperatures. Shortly after, the materials and the design were changing in order to adapt to the environment where they are used.
Today, they are made of different types of materials that guarantee resistance, functionality, and good behavior in the environment. Some of these materials are fiberglass, carbon, and plastic, among others.
Currently, kayaks for competition must have specific characteristics to be part of these competitions, as we will see later in this article.
On the other hand, the Olympic kayak categories have also evolved over time, in the beginning, the games only included the calm water kayak modality, however, for the first time in 1972 in the Olympic games held in Munich the slalom kayak modality was integrated.
But it was not until 1992 that this second modality was definitively integrated, being present in the Olympic games until today.
What types of competition exist today?
The modalities of competition have also varied over the years. In the beginning, only the calm water kayak competition was held, but over time the slalom kayak modality was included.
Another characteristic that changed was the female and male categories, at first they were divided, but nowadays it is sometimes perceived that both sexes can compete at par in any of the kayak modalities in the Olympic games.
In this way, another peculiarity is that in the Olympic games athletes participate in kayaks and canoeing in the same modality or categories. That is, they both compete with the difference using different types of equipment.
The main differences between kayaking and boating are basically the type of boat, for example: in boating, the athlete uses simple paddles or also known as blade paddles, while the kayaker propels the boat sitting down and with the help of double rowing.
Now, each type of competition has totally different characteristics, below I will comment on the particularities of each of them.
Calm water kayak, speed competition
As its name indicates, this competition takes place in calm waters. It can be in rivers, lakes, and even seas, but with calm waters.
Generally, this competition is characterized by having nine tracks, all demarcated with different distances, among them are 200, 500, and 1000 meters. In this modality, all boats registered in the Olympic competition must be standardized and classified based on international rules.
- K1 is an individual kayak, which must have a length of no more than 5.20 meters, and a weight of no less than 12kg.
K2 is a two-seater kayak, whose maximum length must be 6.50 meters, and weighing no less than 18kg.
K4 is a kayak for 4 people, which must have a length of no more than 11 meters and a minimum weight of 30kg.
C1, this is an individual canoe or for a single person, which must have a length of no more than 5.20 meters, and a weight of no less than 16kg.
C2, this is a kayak for two crew members, whose maximum length must be 6.50 meters, and weighing no less than 20kg.
C4, this canoe for 4 people, must have a length of no more than 11 meters and a minimum weight of 50kg.
Whitewater kayak or slalom
In this type of competition, the kayaker must travel at the highest possible speed and with the minimum of warnings through an artificially created channel of turbulent waters, which will test the maneuvering skills of each competitor, thanks to its passage doors, among others. obstacles that will raise the adrenaline to the maximum to any competitor.
Here you can see first-hand the track where the Rio 2016 races were held:
In the slalom kayak, men and women will have to travel a distance of 300 meters on their kayaks individually, while those using canoes, the boats can be single or double.
Like the calm water kayak, the categories are distinguished with the letters K, and C and the boats used must be under international standards.
Women’s Slalom competition in Rio de Janeiro
Men’s Slalom competition in Rio de Janeiro
As for the doubles rafting competition, here you can see both the 2016 Rio final and the 2012 London final:
One of the things that most caught my attention is how they create the slopes to practice Slalom. Here in this video, you can see how they model the first prototypes for testing:
Who are the most outstanding athletes in the world?
Undoubtedly, the kayak in the Olympic Games has left in history, various athletes with excellent careers who have stood out, in such a way that even with the passing of the years they are worth remembering. Some of the most prominent athletes include the following:
Birgit Fischer: Of German nationality, this athlete is considered one of the most outstanding in the world, thanks to her role in speed boating played in the Moscow Olympics in 1980 and in 2004 in Athens, where she was awarded 12 medals in total, 8 of them gold.
Here we can see how he won at the 2004 Athens games.
Gert Fredriksson: Another outstanding athlete is Gert, who also excelled in speed boating, at the 1948 and 1960 London and Rome Olympics, respectively, winning 8 medals in total, of which 6 were gold and 1 was. silver.
There are not so many videos available of Gert Fredriksson, but in this one, you can observe his technique a little:
Katalin Kovac: He also excelled in speed rafting, winning 8 medals in total, of which 2 were gold and 5 silver.
In this video, which could be of better quality, we see how Katalin Kovac wins in the European Canoa games held in Italy:
Michal Martikan: He is one of the world’s leading athletes in the Olympic games under the Slalom kayak modality, or whitewater, winning 5 medals in total, of which 2 are gold and 2 are silver.
These are just some of the many athletes who have made kayaking history in the Olympic games, and surely, every year we will be surprised by new participants who stand out in this wonderful sport.
For example, he won at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, as you can see in the following video:
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