An "unprecedented” number of athletes have come to Georgia to compete in a five-day European rafting competition, held locally for the first time in history.
The Rafting Euro Cup 2016 will kick off near Borjomi in central Georgia tomorrow where professional athletes from 11 European nations including France, Serbia and Czech Republic will each complete for the top award and $1,500 prize money.
The competition will run from May 25-29 and bring together 38 teams from participating nations. Male and female rafters will compete in separate races in four categories.
President of Georgia’s National Rafting Federation David Katsarava said the number of national teams and clubs involved in the event was "unprecedented" for Euro Cup competitions.
The participating teams started arriving in Georgia today [May 23]. May 26 will mark the official opening and Georgia will take part in the event with four teams starting May 27.” Katsarava told reporters.
Georgia has hosted local rafting contests but not a Euro Cup event. Photo from Rafting.ge/Facebook.
Rafting teams will compete in four disciplines on Mtkvari River in Borjomi Valley, 115km west of capital Tbilisi.
The events are: - A 15km downriver descent; - A river sprint; - A river slalom: - An 800m head-to-head race.
The Georgian National Rafting Federation will provide brand new boats to all participants of the Euro Cup 2016.
The boats, made in the Czech Republic specifically for the Euro Cup 2016 in Georgia, were presented to the Georgian public at a special event at Turtle Lake in Tbilisi on May 21.
Boats used in the Euro Cup 2016 were presented to the Tbilisi public on May 21. Photo from the Georgian National Rafting Federation/Facebook.
As a way to promote rafting in Georgia and develop Borjomi as a rafting hub, Euro Cup 2016 organisers said they would also look at hosting other international rafting events here in the future.
The right to host the Euro Cup 2016 was granted to Georgia by the International Rafting Federation in 2015. The European contest is hosted annually by different countries in Europe.