More than 500 athletes from 40 nations have convened in Rome this week to compete at the 20th edition of the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships. The campaign to win world titles takes place on the River Tiber from 21st – 23rd September 2012.
The mascot, named 'Kanu', is a caricature of nutria, an animal specific to the Tiber River. The design is a cute and smiling rodent with clearly visible teeth and a paddle in hand. For the three days of racing, the Tiber becomes an arena where spectators can experience the races firsthand.
The World Championships promise not only to be a sporting event but also a specialty for canoe enthusiasts, showcasing exciting races held over a minimum of 10 km for the junior categories and upto 30 km for the senior male events.
Interspersed features make the canoe races particularly challenging. The course itself is tough with difficult lines of racing and 'portaging' or carrying sections characterised by steep slopes.
A major feature of the canoe marathon is the portage. In accordance with the traditional format of a canoe marathon, participants in the C and K classes have to dash along the riverbank to complete the compulsory number of portage segments. Athletes carry their boats across a stretch of about 100 metres, before heading back into the water to resume the race.
Hungary and Spain have sent their very best endurance paddlers; the German athletes remain their fiercest rivals. Host nation Italy sees its best opportunity to medal in the Women’s K1 category with accomplished athletes such as Susanna Cicali, Stefania Cicali and Anna Alberti, first in K1 senior last year at the Rome 2011 World Cup and silver medallist at the World Championships last year in Singapore.
This is my first senior race in K1 marathon but I’m ready to fight and try to achieve the world title,” said top Italian paddler Stefania Cicali. “Today we tried the course and I had a positive feeling. It won’t be easy to stay on top but we are here to do it to the best of our ability.
A preview of the event was hosted yesterday at the Foro Italico, Rome Tennis Club. Many journalists and sport personalities were present.
The competition began yesterday with the Master World Cup; tomorrow at 18h30 (CET) at Campidoglio Square, the Opening Ceremony will kick off the start of the 2012 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships.
All events are covered by Rai (Italian Television) and live on internet www.atleticomtv.it.
Rai timing is 11.35-15.25 live on Rai Sport 1, Friday 21st September; 11.45-16.30 live on Rai Sport 1, Saturday 22nd September; 9.20-14.45 live on Rai Sport 1, Sunday 23rd September.
Event website: www.rome2012.org
Proofreading - Nicolaas Harding