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66OLYMPIC REVIEWFor latest news go to www.canoeicf.com or www.olympic.orgAt Moscow 1980, BirgitFischer of Germany won theK1 500m and 24 years later,at the age of 42, she was stillon top of the podium. Fischermade it eight gold medalswhen she led her crew toglory in the K4 500m at theSchinias Centre in Athens,beating the Hungarian quartetby 0.196 of a second.Fischer narrowly missed outon a ninth gold whenGermany finished second toHungary's Katalin Kovacs andNatasa Janics in the K2500m. Those Games werealso memorable for Canada'sAdam van Koeverden, whowon gold in the K1 500m, 24hours after securing bronzein the K1 1 000m. In theslalom events, thechurning white seawater at Hellenikohosted a dramatic battle inthe men's C1 competitionbetween Slovakia's MichalMartikan and France's TonyEstanguet, with Estanguetretaining his crown. ElenaKaliska offered someconsolation forSlovakia by takingthe women's K1gold, compounded by theclassy twins Peter and PavolHochschorner taking themen's C2 gold. The men's K1 final ended in asensational victory forFrenchman Benoit Peschier,who defeated fellowcountryman and worldchampion Fabien Lefevre andBriton Campbell Walsh. The origins of canoeingand kayaking stretchback centuries, to whenSouth and NorthAmerican Indians andEskimos used thesecraft as a mode oftransport, fishing andbattle. In the 19th century the formalisation of the sportresulted in the creation of clubs andcompetitions on many continents, starting withthe establishment of the Royal Canoe Club ofLondon in 1866. The first international umbrellafederation was founded in 1924, with the sportsgoverning body, the International CanoeFederation (ICF) being established in 1946, justafter World War Two.There are two distinct disciplines incanoe/kayak. Flatwater racing in kayaks andFORMATTwelve gold medals will be awarded in theFlatwater events in Beijing. Qualification will startat the 2007 World Championships at theDuisburg course in Germany, after which thebalance of the places will be allocated throughthe various continental championships. Theflatwater events will take place over six days,consisting of heats, semi-finals and finals, eachmade up of a maximum of nine boats.Four medals will be awarded in the slalomevents. The slalom racing competition is decidedover four days of heats, semi-finals and finals,where each athlete's score is based on the timeto complete the course, to which two secondsare added for each pole touched, and 50seconds added for each gate missed.Qualification starts at the World Championshipsin Brazil in September, after which the remainingplaces are allocated through continentalchampionships. National Olympic Committeescan enter one boat in each event at the Olympic Games with qualification placesawarded to the NOC, not the athlete.VENUEThe competition will take place at the ShunyiOlympic Rowing-Canoeing Park, a magnificentsetting in vast land to the north east of the city. Ithas been a huge project, with 1.10 million cubicmetres of earth dug out to develop the racingareas alongside a beautifully designed mainseating area and glass watchtower. The park is30km away from the centre of the city and is inthe district of the Capital International Airport.In 2006, the Park was named one of the"Excellent Construction Sites of Year 2006" bythe Beijing 2008 Project ConstructionHeadquarter Office. The artificial slalom, muchlike the courses used in Sydney and Athens, ishighly flexible and easy to adjust to set the levelof difficulty of the course.CONTENDERSThe Flatwater World Championships 2007 inDuisburg (GER) will see the serious Olympictitle contenders battling for medals. The WorldCup season 2006 saw the majority of themajor titles being shared by the establishedstars, determined to time their peak for theBeijing qualification events, particularly asmany nations will not guarantee the Beijingberth to the athlete that qualifies in Duisburg.The teamboat tussle will once again bedominated, in both kayak and canoe, by theeastern European powerhouses, wheredecades of dedication to developing crewscontinue to result in their dominance. However,watch the emergence of the challenge fromthe East, highlighted by the ground-breakingmedals for the Chinese in Athens. Racing ontheir home regatta course, the Chinesechallenge may well be formidable.The slalom contenders have been theconsistent performers in the build-up to thecrucial qualifying event in Brazil in 2007. Elena Kaliska single-handedly raised the bar inthe women's K1 event, after dethroningStepanka Hilgertova, thus heralding the arrivalof a new guard of female slalom stars. In themen's C1 and K1 events, the flames of rivalrythat produced such thrilling sporting spectaclesin Athens have been fanned in the past year. Inparticular, watch Campbell Walsh, the Scottishstar who allowed the men's K1 gold to slipthrough his fingers at Helleniko, try to makeamends in Beijing.Below: Elena Kaliska of SlovakiaATHENSREVIEWCANOE/KAYAKcanoes was introduced as a demonstrationsport at the Paris Games in 1924 and assumedits place in the full medal programme in 1936.Women were included at London 1948. Slalom racing involves competitorsnavigating a short section of rough water, overwhich "gates", consisting of two poles, aresuspended. Penalties are awarded for each gatethat a competitor touches or misses altogether.This discipline was introduced at the 1972Munich Games, where the Augsburg "Eiskanal"proved a great success. It took a full 20 years for slalom to return,mainly due to the costs associated withconstructing suitable courses. However recenteditions of the Games have seen hugelysuccessful slalom events. Left: Ernst Krebs wins gold in the men's K110,000m at the 1936 Berlin Games

OLYMPIC REVIEW67SPORTSPROFILES