Countries of the Americas declare support for Thomas Konietzko for the ICF presidency

Approximately 90% of COPAC countries members are supporting him. His work program is based on five pillars: cooperation; transparency; involvement; innovation and sustainability

The President of the German Canoeing Federation (DKV), Thomas Konietzko made public his candidacy for the role of President of the International Canoe Federation (ICF) earlier this month. One of the main objectives of his mandate will be to develop canoeing in Asia, America, and Africa. “Canoeing must be increasingly present in these regions,” says Thomas. In the past week, 90% of two COPAC countries members, that is, 25 countries out of 27 affiliates, declared support for the German leader. The election will take place at the congress in April 2021 in the Philippines.

“I feel honoured and simultaneously I look humbly towards the great expectations in case of my election as President. I can only promise to give my best to fulfil these high expectations by doing everything possible and by closely collaborating with all committed stakeholders of our sport in America to further develop canoeing. Also, I take this support as a recognition of my work as ICF Vice President. During the last years I have shown how important the development of our sport in the American continent is to me”, Konietzko comments.

Konietzko has chaired the German Federation for 11 years, however he guarantees, if elected, he will no longer be a German president, but a president who will work with great effort for all national canoeing federations on the five continents. A work he has been doing for the past four years as Vice President of ICF. Among his results is the change of the Olympic Canoe Program, starting a commission under his leadership to carry out the same number of modalities for men and women at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. In his evaluation, his election will be to continue the successful work of current president Mr. José Perurena in which he assesses the sporting growth of canoeing outside the European continent expanding to the five continents.

“It will be crucial for the future of our sport that all our five continents are equally strong. It is my dream that at the big events including the Olympic Games the medal distribution will be more diverse compared to previous years where medals have been predominantly won by Europeans. Several countries in the Americas have already managed to win medals at major events such as the Olympic Games and World Championships.

In order to achieve these goals, Konietzko says he will spare no effort to seek this expansion of the sport, he quotes that this is the decisive key for a strong positioning of Canoe in the Olympic program, “this is a priority for me”, he says. He guarantees that he will work with the national federations and with the respective National Olympic Committees. He also aims to personally visit countries on all continents to spread the canoe.

“This also means that we must try to implement even more projects together with the IOC and NOCs in the frame of the Olympic Solidarity program. Good relations with all decision-makers in the NOCs and governments around the world are important to secure the funding of our NFs, but also to protect our position in the Olympic movement.”, explains.

One of the proposed actions is in relation to the training of coaches and managers, he considers the key to the successful development of our sport. For Thomas, the IPCa – Pan American Canoe Institute is a great tool for this training.

“With the Pan American Canoe Institute, COPAC has shown how effectively something like this works based on a reasonable investment. In the future, it must be also the task of the ICF to bundle and coordinate the different activities on all continents. No continent must invent the wheel twice and we need to better manage the exchange of experiences between the Continents, this includes online education. I think that the other continents can also benefit from COPAC experience and can implement similar projects in their continents and the ICF should support these activities”, Konietzko remarks.

He intends to create a development and sustainable use plan for each existing sports facility, but especially for newly planned canoeing facilities.

“We need a sustainable development and utilization plan for each of our existing sport facilities, but especially for newly planed canoeing venues. These plans should not only limited to the sports activities on a competition course, but also includes the use of the local population for sports activities environmental aspects and sustainability will play a major role in the future and we have to ensure the sustainable and environmentally friendly use of our sports facilities, much better than what we do today, and make it the focus of our discussions”, he states.

For Konietzko, the strong European federations also understand that if they want to continue to be part of the Olympic program, they must help develop Canoe on the five continents and that is why there are exchanges and donations of boats that he intends to continue with a greater force.

“Two years ago, I started an initiative to collect boats which are still in good shape from German clubs and send them to countries in other continents which did not have any suitable equipment so far. I can also imagine and will work to ensure that strong European federations like Germany, Hungary or Russia enter into cooperation with federations in the Americas or Asia and use their possibilities to help developing our sport there. My six years on the ECA Board and the connections I have made there, will certainly help me in this regard”, affirms Konietzko.

Thomas Konietzko says that his mandate will be participatory, he will listen to all the entities linked to canoeing to evaluate his actions, he guarantees that he will need important partners if he is elected.  

“I am not a fan of one president setting the guidelines and everyone having to follow them. It is important to form a real and strong team and to discuss about the right way for the future of our sport together and then to implement the decisions together. With the COPAC President Mr. João Tomasini, with the ICF Vice President Dra. Cecilia Farias and with a lot of very committed stakeholders on the America Continent”, commentate Konietzko.

According to Konietzko, his work program is based on five pillars: cooperation; transparency; involvement; innovation and sustainability. Everyone must be involved in the decision-making process.