When the International Olympic Committee announced last week that women’s canoe events will be added to the 2020 Games, it was news Hannah MacIntosh had been waiting to hear for years.
“As an athlete, you have a list of goals like the Canada Games and world championships but the Olympics have always been the big goal,” she said.
“It’s exciting to finally have that in our future.”
‘It opens doors for us’
The Dartmouth resident is among the top international canoeists for her age.
Women will be competing in C-1 200-metre and C-2 500-metre races at the Tokyo Games. Until now, those Olympic events have only been for men.
‘It’s a little something extra that will now help motivate you, help you get out of bed in the morning,” said MacIntosh, 22, who started paddling when she was six years old at the Abenaki Aquatic Club.
“It opens doors for us as well, now we are eligible for funding and now we are eligible for national team carding and coaching.”
Gender equality needed in sport
Like MacIntosh, 21-year-old Katie Vincent is already looking ahead to the 2020 Olympics.
She’s from Mississauga, Ont., but moved to Halifax in 2014 to attend Dalhousie University and to continue her high-level training.
Vincent won a gold medal at the 2016 Under 23 World Championships.
She says gender equality in her sport is much needed.
“I think it’s really good for a lot of younger athletes and it gives them something to look forward to,” said Vincent.
“Hannah and I never had that growing up and now that it’s become a reality it’s even more exciting.”
Heading to world championships
Elaine Keene is a former sprint canoeist from Dartmouth, and a member of the advisory board of WomenCan International.
The group has been pushing for equality and equity in Olympic canoeing.
“There were federations that would suppress women from trying to get involved in canoeing,” said Keene. “Or they would discourage them because they would say, ‘Well, you have no…