Canoe Sprint

A C1 Paddler Photo Credits: Jervis Mun

A C1 Paddler
Photo Credits: Jervis Mun

A K1 Paddler Photo Credits: Jervis Mun

A K1 Paddler
Photo Credits: Jervis Mun


Canoe sprint is a sport that involves moving a boat as quickly as possible from the start to the finish. Events are divided into two different classes, namely the Kayaks (K) and the Canoes(C) and participants race in either Team (K2, K4, C2) or individual (K1, C1) events over three distances, 1000m, 500m and 200m.

In a kayak, paddlers are in a seated position and use a double-bladed paddle to propel the boat forward whereas in a canoe, paddlers use a single-bladed paddle in high-kneel position. The first recognized canoeing competition was held in 1869 and it was organized by John MacGregor, the founder of the British Royal Canoe Club (RCC). Its popularity started to grow in Europe and America and soon trans-Atlantic competition commenced with the founding of the New York Canoe Club. The first women’s competition was also organized in Russia, and by the 1890s canoe sport was very popular and had a large following in Europe. The next milestone for the sport was its inclusion as an Olympic discipline and it debuted at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.

Today, canoe sprint is among one of the fastest growing sports with the addition of new events like the Women’s C1 200m, an exhibition Women’s C2 500m race and the inclusion of seven Para-canoe events. These changes have made the sport more inclusive and accessible and has helped canoe sprint remain relevant and trendy.

In Singapore, the Singapore Canoe Federation (SCF) is the National Sports Association (NSA) overseeing canoe sprint and its popularity as a sport has grown immensely since 1971 with many clubs, secondary and tertiary institutions offering it as a sport.  To support this growing community, a strong coaching structure is needed and SCF conducts coaching courses for would-be flatwater coaches. They are taught by the national coach and are attached to experienced coaches for a fixed period to ensure that athletes in Singapore have qualified coaches. Many competitions are also organized by SCF to cater to differing levels of proficiency among the community ranging from beginners to national athletes and they include:

  • National Canoeing Championships (OPEN)
  • National Junior Canoeing Championships (Age Group)
  • National Inter-Schools’ Canoeing Championships (Age Group in collaboration with Ministry of Education)

SCF is also in-charge of the Singapore National Canoe/Kayak Sprint Team that represents Singapore at regional and international competitions such as the South East Asian Games (SEA Games), Asian Games and World Championships. Athletes are selected during selection trials and train under the national coach and in recent years have begun to win medals at the SEA Games and finish among the top 6 in the Asian Games. We at SCF are committed to the development of paddlers in Singapore and we hope that our athletes will be able to maximize their potential in this sport.

For a copy of the National Squad Selection Handbook, please click here