82: 61 men and 21 women
Each country is limited to one boat in each event.
Field of play
Athletes negotiate a 250 metre white water course, flowing at a rate of 13 cubic metres per second, and dropping 5.5m from start to finish.
History of Canoe Slalom at the Olympic Games
Canoe Slalom made its debut at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games, but didn’t become a permanent part of the Olympic programme until Barcelona 1992.
Find out more about Canoe Slalom at the Olympic Games on the International Olympic Committee website.
Canoe Slalom competitions consist of timed runs down a white water course with up to 25 gates. Red gates must be negotiated upstream, while green gates must be negotiated downstream.
Touching a gate adds a two-second time penalty to the run; missing a gate results in a 50-second penalty. The time taken to run the course in seconds is added to any penalties to give the overall score.
Within Canoe Slalom there are events for both canoes and kayaks. In Canoe Single (C1, for one person) and Canoe Double (C2, for two people) events, competitors kneel and use single-bladed paddles; in the Kayak event (K1), competitors sit and use paddles with blades at both ends.
While the boats used in Canoe Sprint events are long and streamlined, Canoe Slalom boats are small, light and agile. The different shape has more stability and allows for greater manoeuvrability through the rapids.
Officials include a chief judge, timekeepers, start and finish judges, and equipment controllers, as well as gate judges, who determine whether or not an athlete has touched or missed a gate. The judges use coloured bats to signal penalties.
Keys to success
Canoe Slalom depends on great upper body strength, but also incredible control and precision. The best athletes will be able to successfully fight the strength of the water and accurately negotiate all the gates in the fastest possible time.
Breaking the rules
As well as time penalties, athletes can be penalised for other infringements, for example, for being judged not to have started or finished correctly.
Eddy – a white water feature downstream from an obstacle. Drop – a fall of water creating fast current and tough eddies. Hole (stopper) – a whitewater reversal of flow. PFD – a paddler’s buoyancy aid; short for personal flotation device. Spraydeck – a cover worn around the paddler’s waist and stretched over the cockpit entrance to keep water out of the boat. Upstream gate – a slalom gate with red poles that has to be negotiated against the water’s flow.
If you want to find out about canoe slalom in your country, including clubs, facilities and coaching schemes, check the website of your National Governing Body. To find out how you can get involved in canoe slalom in the UK, go to thegamesandbeyond.com
For more information on the Canoe Slalom competition at London 2012 and the rules, go to the website of the International Canoe Federation (ICF), the governing body for the sport.