Morphological characteristics of Olympic sprint canoe and kayak paddlers

Tim Ackland, K. Ong, D.A. Kerr, B. Ridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


Canoe and kayak paddlers (n = 50 M & 20 F) who competed in the sprint events at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney were measured on a battery of 38 anthropometry dimensions prior to competition. The ensuing analysis aimed to identify common physical characteristics that provide these elite paddlers with a competitive advantage. This study demonstrated that participants in Olympic sprint paddling events can be considered homogeneous in shape and physical size; male and female paddlers have SAMs of 1.1 and 1.0 respectively. Compared to other athlete groups, the variance in stature and body mass of paddlers is generally low. Whilst sprint paddlers are not athletes with extreme proportionality profiles, they do possess unique characteristics not commonly observed in the general population. These include a lean body composition (Phantom z-scores for skinfolds range from -1.5 to -2.5 for most sites) with proportionally large upper body girths (z-scores > +1.0 for arm and chest girths), and narrow hips (for males). The morphology of elite paddlers appears to have altered during the past 25 years toward a more compact, robust physique. This trend is especially noticeable for the female competitors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-294
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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