QINGDAO, China - While the best paddlers in the world will catch most of the attention at this weekend’s ICF stand up paddling world championships in China, a determined group of athletes from all corners of the globe will also be determined to make their mark on the sport. The International Canoe Federation has been running a SUP development camp in Qingdao for athletes who are still learning the sport, and the results have been impressive. More than 20 athletes from 14 countries have been taking part, and all will be ready to take the start line when the world championships get underway on Friday.
“A lot of these athletes had done very little stand up paddling before this week, but turned up with a great attitude and a willingness to learn,” ICF development camp co-ordinator, Andrey Kraytor, said. “It’s been so inspiring helping them. They are learning very quickly and I’m looking forward to watching them race this weekend. The most exciting part is the chance to develop our sport even further. These athletes are going to be great ambassadors for our sport when they return home.”
Egypt’s Jomana Ismail Attia is typical of many of the athletes who are taking part in the camp. She paddles on the Nile River in Cairo and the Red Sea, but has never had the support to take her to the next level. The ICF world championships and development camp opened the door for her.
“It’s fun, the coaches are super good, very helpful with tips,” she said. “We have training in the morning and afternoon, we are training on different beaches and trying the boards we are using. I’m learning a lot. In Egypt we don’t have trainers, so this is a chance to learn from the pros. It’s a very good initiative from the ICF to do this development camp.”
Photo courtesy: ICF
The ICF hopes the development camp will help the growth of stand up paddling in parts of the world where the sport is still in its infancy. Jomana Ismail Attia is already planning how she can use all the skills she has learned this week once she gets home.
“First of all I feel proud, because it’s like the first official world championships, and Egypt is represented. And there are no other Arab countries, so we are representing the Arab region,” she said. “We think this is a good chance for us to spread this sport even further when we go back, and they see there was a world championships, Egyptians were there, let's do it as well.”
Training is one thing, competing will be another. But Jomana is not allowing herself to be daunted by the challenge ahead. “I’m trying not to think about it, I don’t want to get scared,” she said. “I’m pretty confident right now after the training and having been in the water that I will finish it standing, and that’s what I am here for. It’s my first world event ever, and its pretty competitive with people from all over the world who have been doing this for years. We are new here, so it’s just a good chance to be here and paddle with these guys by our side.”
The 2019 ICF stand up paddling world championships begin on Friday and run through until Sunday. For more news on the ICF Championships, click here.
About International Canoe Federation
The International Canoe Federation is responsible for the global sport of canoeing and has 162 affiliated National Associations and 11 disciplines - Sprint, Slalom, Paracanoe, Wildwater, Marathon, Stand Up Paddling, Canoe Polo, Freestyle, Ocean Racing, Dragon Boat and Canoe Sailing.
Canoeing has two Olympic disciplines, with Sprint introduced at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games and Slalom at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games; Canoeing also made its debut at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games with Paracanoe.