Olympic Canoe/Kayak is not without it's share of excitement, drama, and memorable highlights. It might also surprise you to know that canoe/kayak holds some overall Olympic records. As one begins to dig into the history of Canoe/Kayak an excitement and sense of pride will inevitably boil to the surface in the heart and mind of the paddler. Contained here are the Greatest Moments in Olympic Canoe/Kayak History to wet your taste for this exciting sport with a long and rich history.
1. The Introduction of Flatwater Canoe/Kayak to the 1936 Olympics
Flatwater Canoe/Kayak was first demonstrated at an Olympics at the 1924 Paris Games. It wasn't until 12 years later at the 1936 Berlin Olympics that it became a full medal Olympic event. The first events. The first Olympic Canoe/Kayak Flatwater events that were contested at the 1936 Berlin Olympics were: K-1 1000m, K-2 1000m, K-1 10000m, K-2 10000m, C-1 1000m, C-2 1000, C-1 10000, C-2 10000, Folding K-1 10000, Folding K-2 10000.
2. The 1992 Barcelona Games: Slalom Olympic Canoe/Kayak is Here to Stay!
The Olympic Canoe/Kayak Slalom events were first introduced and contested at the Munich Olympic Games of 1972. Then for 20 years the slalom version of canoe/kayak was conspicuously missing from the Olympics. That would all change at the 1992 Barcelona Games as Slalom Canoe/Kayak was reintroduced to the Olympics. With the advent of engineered courses and man-made rivers, it's safe to say that this heart-stopping adventure packed Olympic Sport is here to stay.
3. Birgit Fischer Does it Again: 24 Years (& 12 Medals) of Olympic Greatness!
Birgit Fischer is truly a legend in the Canoe/Kayak world. In 1980 at the age of 18 she became the youngest canoe champion in Olympic history. In 2000 Birgit Fischer became the only women in Olympic history to win medals 20 years apart. Then in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games she added 2 more medals, including a gold, to give her a total of 12 medals (8 Gold & 4 Silver). What is even more remarkable is the fact that she won gold medals in multiple events, K-1, K-2, and K-4, showing that she is not only an individual competitor but she is also a champion team player.
4. Tony Estanguet Defeats Michal Martikan in the 2004 C-1 Slalom Event
For the second straight Olympics, the C-1 Slalom event came down to these 2 men. Slovakia's Martikan had won the gold in 1996 and France's Estanguet beat Martikan by about 2 seconds in 2000. In 2004, Martikan was poised to regain the title and it actually seemed that he had, by posting a time that was 2 seconds better than Estanguet. But wait! A video clip shows Martikan touching one of the gates which amounts to a 2 second penalty. Estanguet ended up taking the gold by .12 seconds as a result of that penalty making him the only Olympic C-1 competitor to have back-to-back Olympic titles.
5. USA's Greg Barton Wins 2 Gold Medals in the 1988 Olympics
In 1988, his second Olympic Games, America's own, Greg Barton wins his 2nd and 3rd Olympic medals. This time he takes gold medals in both the K-1 1000m and the K-2 1000m events, making him the first United States' kayaker to win an Olympic Gold medal and the only Olympic Canoe/Kayak competitor, flatwater or slalom, to win 2 gold medals.