Paracanoe is canoeing for athletes with physical impairments. The sport is governed by the International Canoe Federation (ICF).

The two main types of paracanoe boats are Kayaks (K), propelled by a double-blade paddle, and outrigger canoes called Va'as (V) where the boat has a second ‘pontoon’ called an ama as a support float. The boat is propelled by a single blade paddle. The International Va’a Federation is working in partnership with the ICF in this project.

The Paralympic Paracanoe classification of impairments were restructured as of February, 2015 as a result of a two and one half year study by the ICF. In Paralympic kayak competition (K1), there are three classes for both men and women:

KL1: Athletes with no or very limited trunk function and no leg function and typically need a special seat with high backrest in the kayak.

KL2: Athletes with partial trunk and leg function, able to sit upright in the kayak but might need a special backrest, limited leg movement during paddling.

KL3: Athletes with trunk function and partial leg function, able to sit with trunk in forward flexed position in the kayak and able to use at least one leg/prosthesis.

At the international level, Non-Paralympic Paracanoe events are the Va'a events. They use the same system of classification. The class titles are: VL1, VL2, VL3.

Paracanoe events will debut at the Summer Paralympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Kayak singles races will be contested. A meeting of the International Paralympic Committee in Guangzhou, China in 2010 decided to add paracanoe to the roster of the Summer Paralympic Games beginning in 2016.

The ICF is currently working on a proposal to the IPC to add Va’a events to the 2020 TOKYO Paralympic Games programme.

For more detailed information on Paracanoe Classification please go to the Classification section of the ICF website.


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