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A guide to canoeing at the Olympics

Updated: Monday, 02 Jul 2012 12:26

Ireland's Eoin Rheinisch placed fourth at the Beijing Games and will hope to improve on that in London
Ireland's Eoin Rheinisch placed fourth at the Beijing Games and will hope to improve on that in London

COMPETITION DATES
Slalom - July 29 to August 2
Sprint - August 6 to August 11

STAR NAME
Tim Brabants: He may have taken 18 months out after claiming gold at the Beijing Olympics - and qualified by a paddle's width ahead of the talented Paul Wycherley - but when it comes to the flat-water competition at Dorney Lake, all eyes will be on the 35-year-old from Nottingham. The sport's leading figures often describe his Beijing victory as the moment the sport finally received widespread recognition. Whether canoeing can now break into the mainstream like cycling and sailing will depend in part on whether Brabants can spearhead an attack for gold medals.

GREATEST OLYMPIANS
Peter and Pavol Hochschorner: The twin brothers are to canoe slalom what Steve Redgrave is to rowing. The Slovaks topped the podium at Sydney, Athens and Beijing in the two-man boat and they are favourites again this year in the C2 category. Canoe slalom can be terrifyingly unpredictable, an unexpected wave or current can ruin a dream in the fraction of a second. Communication and teamwork under pressure is therefore critical. In the heat of battle, the Hochschorner brothers seem to rely on telepathy, a talent which undoubtedly sets them apart from the rest.

BIGGEST FLOP
Campbell Walsh: The Scot, a silver medallist in Athens 2004, was tipped to represent Team GB in the K1 slalom category at this year's Olympics but was denied a place by Richard Hounslow - excruciatingly missing out by 0.09 of a second. Whether or not Walsh, who is now 34, decides to compete for a place at what would be his third Games in Rio de Janeiro remains to be seen.

DID YOU KNOW?
Competitors - referred to as paddlers - have to negotiate up to 25 gates in the shortest time possible. Touch a gate, and a paddler receives a two-second penalty. Miss a gate, it is 50 seconds and game over. Based on ski slalom, the sport emerged in Switzerland in the 1930s. At first, competitions were held on flat water before moving to rapids. This year's Olympic competition will be held at the Lee Valley White Water Centre, the only venue opened to the public before the Games.

FIRST APPEARANCE AT THE GAMES
Canoe Slalom - 1972 Munich Olympics. It was then removed from the Olympic schedule before being re-introduced at Barcelona in 1992.
Canoe Sprint - 1936 (men) 1948 (women).

Medal Table

Country Total
USA 45 27 30 102
China 38 28 23 89
Great Britain 29 17 19 65
Russia 25 25 32 82
South Korea 13 8 7 28
Ireland 1 1 3 5
Full Table

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