Kind of sport
The Olympic canoeing competitions can be subdivided into two categories: the kayak, in which the competitor is sitting and manoevering his/her way with a two bladed paddle and the Canadian, in which the participant, while kneeling, manoevers his/her way with a one bladed paddle. The Olympic events for men are: the one and two persons kayak for (over) the 500 and the 1000 metres, and the four persons kayak for the 1000 metres.
At Olympic competitions, one and two persons Canadian canoes take part in 500 and 1000 metre events. Women only participate in the kayak events (K-1, K-2 and K-4) all of which cover a distance of 500 metres.
The races take place on dead-water, such as on lakes and artificial regatta circuits. A Regatta circuit consists of nine lanes. Each of these lanes is nine metres wide and has buoys all along its length. The canoes and kayaks that compete must meet the construction requirements of the ICF (the International Canoe Federation) and be verified. Canoeing always commences with qualifying rounds. The eight fastest boats go directly to the semifinals while the rest get one last chance to redeem themselves. The four fastest boats are graced yet again with a place at the semifinals. Until 1984 only the six fastest semifinalists took part in the finals. But in 1984, the number of semifinalists was increased to nine and the "Petit final" which placed the losers was scrapped. Canoeing demands a strong sense of balance, a good coordination and strength. And with the team events, the two and four person kayak and Canadian, a smooth and synchronous movement is of crucial importance.
Since 1992, the slalom is once again on the Olympic programme for both male and female one person kayak and for one and two person Canadian which is only for men.