Paracanoe is a paddlesports discipline for any athlete with an impairment. It began as an initiative by the International Canoe Federation (ICF) to allow athletes with an impairment to compete in the sport.
After featuring as an exhibition event at the 2009 Canoe Sprint World Championships, Paracanoe had its first World Championships in 2013 in Duisberg, Germany. Paracanoe became an official Paralympic sport in 2016 and made its K1 debut at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games, while V1 will first be contested at the 2021 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Like Canoe Sprint, Paracanoe paddlers compete over 200m and 500m distances. While they are limited to single-seated craft, athletes have the opportunity to race in K1 and also V1 (Va’a racing involves a single-bladed paddle).
Because every para-athlete has a different and often unique impairment, experts assign them a specific classification based on this, so that they only race against those with the same classification. The current classifications are KL1, KL2, KL3, VL1, VL2 and VL3.