There are many places in which women do not have equal opportunities as men, especially in sports. One sport in which this is the case that particularly irks me is in whitewater slalom paddling, more specifically in the c-1 division. For those of you who don’t know, whitewater c-1 is very similar to kayaking; however you use a canoe paddle and sit on your knees as opposed to with your legs stretched out in front of you. The following video, in the first few minutes shows a run in a c1 (or canoe, as also labelled) by Tony Estanguet of France; he has won 3 olympic gold medals in this event. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCRcMcv2L6U
Women can only compete in the c1 division at the World Cup level; there is no olympic level for women. This to me, is absolutely ridiculous. Women and men should have an equal opportunity to compete at all levels. I will admit, canoeing is a dying breed, especially women canoeists; however there are enough women out there, who are good enough, to create a team, and perhaps to even do well.
I whitewater canoe and c1, and I have always been noticed for it, especially by the older paddlers. This is because first of all I am a woman, and I was paddling. Secondly, I was a canoeist in a sea of kayakers, and thirdly, I was canoeing well. I have been in boats since I was little, and I was officially taught how to canoe when I was 9. I have been seriously whitewater canoeing since I was 12.
I chose canoeing over kayaking because it felt like more of a challenge, but it also felt more natural. It allows for usage of the entire body. You use your thighs to brace when the water tries to pull your boat over. You use your core to extend forward and pull the boat through the current. You use your arms to put more muscle and strength into the stroke. It is truly something that uses every aspect of your body, and I didn’t feel I could get that with kayaking.
If I had the chance and the opportunity, I would train for the olympic trials. Not necessarily because I am good, but because it is my passion, and I am one of few to do it. However, I do not have the opportunity because women’s canoeing does not exist at that level. Women’s kayaking exists because it is more popular and more well known. However, I firmly believe that men and women should have the same opportunity to pursue their dreams.