Team Canada canoe/kayak sprint paddlers aim to keep momentum going at Paris 2024

Team Canada’s canoe/kayak sprint paddlers will take to the water at Paris 2024 looking to build on the historic Tokyo 2020 Games where the sport’s program became gender equal for the first time in Olympic history.

Team Canada is sending a strong group of 13 paddlers, including both new faces and seasoned veterans, to uphold a tradition of Canadian canoe/kayak sprint success at the Olympic Games.

Katie Vincent, Tokyo 2020 bronze medalist in the women’s C-2 500m, will partner Sloan MacKenzie who is making her Olympic debut. Together they won bronze in the C-2 500m at the 2023 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships, which qualified Canada in the event for Paris 2024. Soon after, they won gold at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games. Vincent and MacKenzie took home silver in the women’s C-2 500m event at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup in Szeged, Hungary in May.

Katie Vincent and Sloan MacKenzie with their gold medals won in the women’s C-2 500m at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games. (Carlos Acuña/Santiago2023 vía PHOTOSPORT)

Vincent also remains a fierce competitor individually. At that same World Cup in May, she took home gold in the women’s C-1 200m event. In 2021, just a month after her Olympic debut, she won the first individual world title of her career in the C-1 200m.

“It’s hard to find the words in this special moment,” said Vincent. “After the Tokyo Olympics, I had no idea what the road to Paris was going to look like, there were many unknowns. To be here today with new coaches and teammates going to my second Olympics gives me so much pride and joy. I can honestly say we have one of the best teams in the world both on and off the water and I can’t wait to enjoy the next six weeks with my teammates and coaches!”

Finishing just behind Vincent in the C-1 200m at the World Cup in Szeged was Sophia Jensen, who earned silver. The 22-year-old is a rising star who won back-to-back junior world titles in the C-1 200m in 2018 and 2019 and then won gold in the same event at the 2021 U23 world championships. After her sixth-place finish at the 2023 World Championships, she claimed the final podium spot in the women’s C-1 200m at Santiago 2023.

Earlier this year, Jensen was a recipient of the Canadian Olympic Foundation’s Bursary Program for Quebec Olympic Athletes.

“It’s a huge honour to be representing Canada at the Olympic Games. It’s been a dream of mine since I was nine years old so I’m really excited,” said Jensen. “The Bursary program has helped me truly focus on what’s important, being my training and preparation for the Olympic Games! Without financial stress I feel a giant weight lifted off of my shoulders and I just just focus on my well being and my training.”

Another of Canada’s gold medallists at Santiago 2023 was Michelle Russell, who topped the podium in the women’s K-1 500m.

Russell will be a returning Olympian after she made her Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, where she competed in the two women’s individual kayak events (K-1 200m and K-1 500m) that were on the program, as well as the women’s K-4 500m. At Paris 2024, the K-1 500m will be the only women’s individual kayak event. Russell finished sixth in the K-1 500m at the 2023 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships,which qualified Canada in the event for Paris 2024.

Tokyo Olympian Connor Fitzpatrick will be representing Canada in the men’s C-1 1000m. He claimed that spot for Canada at the Pan American Qualifier in April, six months after winning bronze in the C-1 1000m at Santiago 2023. Fitzpatrick was an A finalist at the 2023 World Championships.

Connor Fitzpatrick paddles to the bronze medal in the men’s C-1 1000m at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games on November 4, 2023 (Carlos Acuña/Santiago2023 vía PHOTOSPORT)

Canada will also compete in the women’s and men’s K-4 500m events with crews that each won silver at the Santiago 2023 Pan Am Games.

Courtney Stott, Natalie Davison, Riley Melanson, and Toshka Besharah-Hrebacka will all be making their Olympic debuts in the women’s K-4 500m. The foursome competed together at the 2023 World Championships where they qualified the boat for Paris.

Tokyo 2020 team members Simon McTavish, Nick Matveev, and Pierre-Luc Poulin will be joined in the men’s K-4 500m by Laurent Lavigne, who is headed to his first Olympic Games. This is also the crew that qualified the boat for Paris 2024 at the 2023 World Championships.

“With Paris around the corner and securing a place on this incredible Team Canada, there are a lot of emotions and pride being nominated to an Olympic team,” said Poulin. “The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games made a mark for me in my paddling career and I’m looking forward to making the Paris Olympics one to remember.”

Canoe/kayak sprint will take place August 6 to 10 (Days 11-15), with 10 events total (five men, five women), at the Vaires-sur-Marne Nautical Stadium.

Since the sport made its Olympic debut at Berlin 1936, 26 medals have been won by Canadians in canoe/kayak sprint, with the biggest medal haul coming from Los Angeles 1984 where six medals were won.

Team Canada Canoe/Kayak Sprint Athletes at Paris 2024:

Women’s Canoe
Sophia Jensen (Chelsea, Que.)
Sloan MacKenzie (Windsor Junction, N.S.)
Katie Vincent (Mississauga, Ont.)

Women’s Kayak
Toshka Besharah-Hrebacka (Ottawa, Ont.)
Natalie Davison (Manotick, Ont.)
Riley Melanson (Dartmouth, N.S.)
Michelle Russell (Fall River, N.S.)
Courtney Stott (Pickering, Ont.)

Men’s Canoe
Connor Fitzpatrick (Dartmouth, N.S.)

Men’s Kayak
Laurent Lavigne (Trois-Rivières, Que.)
Nick Matveev (North York, Ont.)
Simon McTavish (Oakville Ont.)
Pierre-Luc Poulin (Lac-Beauport, Que.)