The first canoe sprint World Cup since the Rio Olympics is set to sizzle with Olympic gold medallists, World Champions and stars of the future at the magnificent Montemor-o-Velho course in Portugal next month.
Montemor-o-Velho has earned a reputation as one of the best sprint canoe facilities in the world, earning it the right to host the 2018 World Sprint Canoe Championships.
Almost 200 paddlers from 18 countries will be looking to get the 2017 season underway on a positive note, including Olympic gold medallists Lisa Carrington and Sebastian Brendel.
“This is a major event for us, first because it’s the last race before the 2018 World Championships, and the final test for the venue, for the local organizers and all the partners and entities involved directly and indirectly in this events,” Canoe Sprint Portugal Federation Secretary-General, Marcos Oliveira, said.
“Canoeing in Portugal has grown in a way that for the past 4-5 years we are the top sport in the country, especially with international results and as host of the biggest and most successful events in canoeing, sprint and marathon.
“This ICF events keep this position growing.”
The World Cup opener will also signal the start of the new Olympic cycle, and with new events on the program for Tokyo 2020 it will give a lot of athletes extra incentive to perform strongly in Montemor-o-Velho.
Among those will be current women’s C1 200 World Champion, Staniliya Stamenova of Bulgaria.
Members of the international canoeing community are sure to be impressed by the ongoing improvements to facilities at the world-class Montemor-o-Velho course, a 27 million Euros investment by the Portuguese Government and the local City Hall.
“It’s our goal to keep an international or European event per year at this venue, not only to prove the good investment in this facilities, but also to be able to keep the venue up to date, with more investments being made every year,” Mr Oliveira said.
“At this moment there are two major investments starting. One is the new finish tower and side facilities, with around 500.000 investment and also the situation of the side wind, one of the only problem we have in Montemor.
“Restarting in 2017 we will make new studies and gather new information to be able to make new investments to reduce the side wind during competitions.”
The ongoing investment in Montemor-o-Velho also augers well for the future of sprint canoe in Portugal.
The country’s first and most recent Olympic medal was a silver for Fernando Pimento and Emanuel Silva in the men’s K-2 1000 in London, and Mr Oliveira said the facilities on offer at Montemor gave Portugal’s top paddlers a unique opportunity to build on that legacy.
“Montemor is our canoe base for training, and is where we have this home of canoeing project in partnership with the city hall and the University of Coimbra,” he said.
“It gives to top athletes the possibility to keep training hard and study at the same time. More than 100 athletes for the different canoe sprint national teams use Montemor for training camps, more than 20 live in Montemor and so many others changed they’re home to Montemor to be near the venue and near the home of canoeing.”