It’s not called a World Championships, but the canoe polo competition at this month’s World Games in Wroclaw is as good as the very best the sport has to offer.
Seven of the world’s best teams, both men’s and women’s, will take part this year, with the preliminary rounds set for Wroclaw’s Orbita swimming pool on Friday and Saturday, and the finals on Sunday.
In previous years it has been a six-team competition, but an extra position has been added for this year. The top five countries in the men’s and women’s from the 2016 World Championships have all been invited to attend, along with the host nation.
The seventh team is the highest ranked non-European team from last year’s World titles.
Four years ago Germany won both the men’s and women’s gold medals. In Wroclaw, they will look to defend their men’s title against Poland, New Zealand, Spain, France, Taipei and Italy.
In the women’s event teams from Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Italy, France and Poland will join Germany in the race for gold.
It will be the first time Poland, the host nation, will contest both the men’s and women’s events, while Canada will be appearing for the first time in the women’s competition.
It’s the first time Australia will be absent from the World Games canoe polo tournament, while their neighbors, New Zealand, will be a strong medal prospect after winning gold in the women’s competition at the last World Championships.
Italy is the reigning men’s World Champions, and were bronze medallists at the 2013 World Games.
The World Games is an international, multi-sport event which includes sports and disciplines not included in the Olympic Games. Canoe Polo’s involvement is the highlight of the year for the sport’s international event calendar, and one of the pinnacle events for the sport.
Canoe polo first appeared at the World Games in Duisburg, Germany, in 2005. Interestingly, it was the very same city where the sport was first demonstrated at the canoe sprint World Championships in 1987.