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News posted on Friday 10th May, 2024

Paddle to Paris: NZ Para canoe team chase final Paralympic spots

Black and white photo of three canoe racers

This weekend’s ICF Paracanoe World Championships in Hungary marks an important milestone for the NZ Para canoe team in their Paddle to Paris journey, with the event the final opportunity to qualify for the 2024 Paralympic Games.

Paralympian #215 Corbin Hart and Para athlete Peter Cowan are hoping their results will allow them to secure a slot of New Zealand. It won’t be an easy road, with only four highly sought-after spots remaining in each classification event but CRNZ General Manager of Performance Nathan Luce remains positive.

“The boys are going well. We have settled here nicely in Szeged and everyone is excited to get the event underway on Thursday and see what they can do.”

There are only a total of 10 qualification slots available across the five men’s paracanoe events. Six qualification slots have already been determined at the 2023 World Championships in Duisburg, leaving four quota slots up for grabs in each event this weekend.

Corbin Hart is seeking to qualify a spot in the KL2 200m event (kayak), while Peter Cowan is looking to qualify in the VL3 200m (V’aa, more commonly known as Waka ama here in Aotearoa).

Courtesy of his fourth place finish at last year’s world championships, Paralympian #198 Scott Martlew secured a slot for NZ in the KL2 200m. Scott, who also has three World Championship medals, was the first canoe racing athlete to represent New Zealand at the Paralympic Games when Para canoe was first introduced in Rio 2016, where he placed eighth in the KL3 200m. He returned to Tokyo in 2020 and was fourth in the KL2 200m final and eighth in the VL3 200m final. 

Corbin Hart was 13th in the KL3 200m at his first games in Tokyo, just two years after taking up the sport.

The International Canoe Federation and Paralympic Events are open to athletes with a physical impairment and race over 200m. There are two different craft that athletes can compete in, Kayak (K) and Va’a (V). Paddlers are categorised into three different groups according to the degree of physical impairment and activity limitation:

KL1 or VL1 – Very limited trunk and no leg function and paddle with shoulders and arms only.

KL2 or VL2 – Trunk and some leg function.

KL3 or VL3 – Trunk and partial leg function with some use of hips.

Eligibility is determined by trained classifiers. At New Zealand events, Para canoe racing is open to all impairments.

Up to 100 athletes (50 men and 50 women) will compete across 10 medal events at the Paris 2024 Paralympics. Para canoe events will be held from Friday, September 6th – Sunday, September 8th. 

Good luck to Scott, Corbin and Peter for the World Championships.

 NZ Para canoe Team for 2024 ICF Paracanoe World Championships

Scott Martlew (KL2 200m)

Corbin Hart (KL3 200m)

Peter Cowan (VL3 200m)

The racing will be livestreamed and available to watch for free on the Planet Canoe Youtube channel

Follow CRNZ website and social media channels to keep up to date on race schedule and results.

Story courtesy of Canoe Racing NZ.

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