ICF President José Perurena looked forward to the Olympic year ©ICF

International Canoe Federation (ICF) President José Perurena is looking forward to the Olympic year after a successful 2019 for his sport.

The past year saw record viewing numbers on both television and online platforms, a significant growth in social media activity and competitions across all ICF disciplines.

Highlights included a number of World Championships, Olympic and Paralympic qualifiers in canoe sprint, canoe slalom and paracanoe, and world titles in ocean racing, marathon, freestyle and wildwater.

Perurena acknowledged this success and looked forward to the upcoming year, with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games set to get underway in July. 

"There is no doubt most of the focus this year will be on Tokyo, and with three disciplines across both the Olympics and Paralympics, ours will be one of the busiest sports," he said.

"It's exciting because we have a big group of emerging athletes ready to challenge the experienced Olympians and Paralympians. 

"I have no doubt that we will be toasting some new Olympic heroes in Tokyo."

The upcoming year will also see the Para-canoe World Championships take place ©ICF
The upcoming year will also see the Para-canoe World Championships take place ©ICF

Focus will not just be on Tokyo 2020, however, with plans also in place to expand ICF development programmes in several canoeing disciplines around the world.

Other highlights for 2020 include the Para-canoe World Championships and Paralympic qualifiers, further Olympic qualifiers for canoe slalom and canoe sprint, the first World Championships for non-Olympic categories in both sprint and slalom, and World Championships in canoe polo, canoe marathon, ocean racing, wildwater and dragon boat.

"It's not just about the Games," said Perurena. 

"We have World Championships in other disciplines and top-flight international events all around the world, and we will strive to build on the incredible 2019 season as we look to attract new athletes and more countries to canoeing."