Freestyle World Championships is back!

The first-ever gold medal for women and the return of all reigning world champions will be among the highlights of the ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships in Nottingham, UK, next week.

It will be the first freestyle world title since Sort in Spain hosted the event in 2019, and the first time the UK has held a world championship since the very first “unofficial” world championships were held in Wales in 1991.

The world championships were due to be held at Nottingham’s Holme Pierrepont Country Park last year but had to be postponed to this year because of Covid.

For the first time a women’s C1 gold medal will be up for grabs, and local hope Ottilie Robinson-Shaw will be among the leading title contenders. 

Every gold medalist from 2019 will return next week to defend their title, while every single men’s K1 gold medalist since the first world championships in 2007 will be competing. All men’s C1 gold medalists since the event was introduced in 2011 will also be on the water.

The Jackson family from the United States, considered royalty in canoe freestyle circles, will be out in force in Nottingham. Eric Jackson won the first men’s K1 world title in 2007, and his son, Dane, has since won three K1 titles – the latest in 2019. They will compete alongside each other next week.

Dane Jackson also has three C1 world titles. Sister Emily is a two-time freestyle world champion and will be chasing her third title in Nottingham.

Returning to defend their 2019 titles in Nottingham next week will be Dane Jackson in the men’s K1, Japan’s Hitomi Takaku in the women’s K1, and France’s Tom Dolle in the men’s C1. Nine of the top ten K1 men from Sort will be in action, while four of the top five women’s K1 from Sort are entered.

 Other former world champions in action in Nottingham include Spain’s Joaquim Fontane (2017), Great Britain’s James Bebbington (2011) and Canada’s Nicholas Troutman (2009) in K1, and USA’s Jordan Poffenberger (2013) in the men’s C1.

The ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships begin on Sunday and run through until the following Saturday.