Canoe-Kayak Community Clubs

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Rideau Canoe Club plans to stage national sprint championships with modifications

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

By Martin Cleary

For the first time in two summers, the country’s best canoe and kayak paddlers will compete in the Canoe Kayak Canada sprint championships, to be staged by the Rideau Canoe Club Aug. 23-29. That’s the plan.

As Canada carefully continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Canoe Kayak Canada and the national championship organizing committee at Rideau have decided to push ahead with its most important domestic event. But there will be modifications.

“The host organizing committee recognizes the invaluable impact nationals will have for the mental health of our young athletes,” said championships co-chair Dr. Anna Wilkinson in a press release Friday.

“This event will provide much needed motivation for these athletes in their training throughout the summer. We have leveraged the experience gained by Canoe Kayak Canada in running Olympic Trials to create a comprehensive plan for a safe event.”

Races and qualifications on the highly-respected Mooney’s Bay course will be restricted to singles boats only. The national championships also will double as the 2021 national team trials, which were previously postponed.

The trials will determine Canadian teams for the junior and U23 world championships, Olympic Hopes Regatta and the world senior championships in September.

Under the championships’ safety plan, which will be consistent with public health guidelines, paddlers will be in zones with controlled access for proper physical distancing. Race days will be determined by age and gender to limit the numbers.

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Depending on the state of the pandemic in late August, there may not be any spectator areas. If that’s the case, Canoe Kayak Canada will livestream the races as it did for the 2021 Olympic trials in Burnaby, B.C.

“Over the past several months, we have remained in constant contact with officials at the City of Ottawa and have worked to develop protocols that will ensure a safe event aligned with public health measures,” said Canoe Kayak Canada director of development Ian Mortimer.

The national championships, which were cancelled in 2020 at Rideau because of the pandemic, also are expected to attract Canada’s top canoe and kayak paddlers who attended the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at

Martin can be reached by e-mail at and on Twitter @martincleary.

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