|José Perurena López- President, ICF|
|Profile of the week|
Monday, 12 March 2012 13:01
ICF President José Perurena López has been involved in Canoeing for almost 50 years. A ready competitor he made his mark in the K1, K2, K4 events receiving the accolade of national champion in each of those categories. Even though he excelled primarily in the K2 1000m, he also claimed 1st place in the K2 500m and K4 1000m at the International Regatta Milan (ITA). The highlight of his sporting career was undoubtedly making the Spanish Olympic K4 1000m team for the 1968 Olympic Games.
Even after retiring from elite sport José Perurena and entering the emerging market of Information Technology he still maintained a strong link to the sport, often in voluntary positions within the Spanish Canoeing Federation. A qualified Canoe Sprint coach, he has chaired the Athletes Commission of the Spanish Olympic Committee, eventually becoming Vice President and then President of the Federation 1988. Following his success at the national level he came into the international scene as the ICF Technical Delegate for Canoe Sprint and Canoe Slalom at the Atlanta and Sydney Games.
After the Sydney Games José Perurena joined the ICF as Secretary General and after the Beijing Games became ICF President. Since taking over the ICF he has overseen several key initiatives such as the inclusion of Paracanoeing into the Rio 2016 Paraolympic Games as well as the TV and Broadcasting deals that have substantially increased the sports visibility around the world. Last year the President was elected IOC Member at the IOC Congress in Durban, South Africa.
Besides Canoeing, José Perurena is an avid mountain biker, and also enjoys sailing, tennis and golf.
By Marc Sibbons
You have been the President of the ICF since 2008, what have been your greatest achievements in your role so far?
Paracanoeing being included in the Sport Programme of Rio 2016 was a major achievement not just for me but also for the entire ICF. I would also say the acceptance of the ICF as a full member of the International Paralympic Committee Assembly would be right up there. Of course I consider my election as IOC Member in Durban, South Africa last year to be also a great personal achievement but one that Canoeing can be proud of. With 35 IFs and only 17 Presidents being members of the IOC, Canoeing being in this group is a big plus to our Federation.
I also think the changes made to the Canoeing Olympic Program has been a big step forward, as it has been well received by athletes and officials alike. This has definitely impacted the sharp increase in broadcasting of our events. Furthermore, our sport is now included in all multisport events (Continental Games, Universiada, Youth Games, World Games, Masters Games, and Paralympic Games). But I have to mention that these achievements are not mine alone as I have a great support team that works to ensure that Canoeing is going in the right direction, which it is.
Having competed as a Sprint Canoeist in the late 60’s, how has your experience helped you be successful in your current role?
Being a top athlete means being disciplined and having very clear goals set out. After retiring from competing at a high level, I stayed within the Canoeing Family, mostly in volunteer and technical positions. Most sports leaders have gone through this process, but it is often only those who have faith, hope and especially a passion for their sport that reach the top. This process is quite evident in the career path of the ICF Executive Committee - they had brilliant careers as athletes and now occupy positions of responsibility within the ICF.
What are your best memories as a Sprint Canoeist?
Mexico 1968 was very special because every athlete, whether that be amateur or professional, fantasises about representing their country at an Olympic Games. I also have very fond memories of Barcelona 1992 because I was part of the Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and it was the year that Slalom was included in the Sport Programme!
With the Olympic Games creeping up on London 2012, how are preparations shaping up for associated nations participating In the Canoeing events?
In terms of athlete readiness, the qualifiers are an on-going process where some athletes have already been confirmed and others will still have to go through the selection process. I think it is only after selections that the true preparation begins, mentally and physically.
There are two types of Canoeing involved in the Olympic Games: Canoe Slalom and Canoe Sprint. What is the difference between the two? Which one attracts more public interest and why?
As far as the difference between slalom and sprint events, it is fairly easy to distinguish. Slalom events are paddled on a whitewater slalom course where athletes must paddle through hanging gates in very tumultuous water conditions. Sprint events are flat-water races held over distances of 200m, 500m, and 1000m.
What impact do you hope Canoeing will have on the London 2012 Olympics?
Canoeing is one of 26 sports at the Games, so if the organisation of the event is carried out without any major problems then I expect it to make a big impact. After all, our sport is one of the most widely practiced in the world, so if we can present the elite side of our sport in the media and through TV broadcasts to be the wonderful sport it is, I have no doubt that Canoeing at this year’s Olympic Games will supersede its popularity of previous Games.
Do you think the Canoeing event will be more successful than previous Olympics like Beijing in 2008 for example?
As mentioned before, some positive changes have been made to the Canoeing Olympic Programme, and I look forward to seeing the impact of the changes we have made at Games time. I am convinced that these changes will be viewed positively. I look forward, with optimism, to see the see the global impact of our sport on the biggest sport platform in the world.
Has there been an increase in TV coverage of Canoeing events over the last 20 years?
TV viewership numbers are definitely up. You look at the figures two years ago and then look at the figures from last year, and you can see that Canoeing is now being viewed as a valuable TV property. For the very first time all World Cups and World Championships were showed LIVE and our programmes were picked up by renowned global broadcasters such as Eurosport, ARD, BBC, ESPN, RAI TV, Sportsnet etc. in 85 different countries!