Host City: Atlanta, United States
Date Started: July 27, 1996
Date Finished: August 4, 1996
Participants: 451 (329 men and 121 women) from 54 countries
Youngest Participant: Ana Ugrinovska (16 years, 71 days)
Oldest Participant: Dzintra Blūma (38 years, 183 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 12 athletes with 2 medals
Most Medals (Country): Germany (9 medals)
The Olympic canoeing program was standardized in 1992, with the same events contested for men and women from 1992-2008. There were nine men’s flatwater events (five kayak, four Canadian canoe), three women’s flatwater kayak events, three men’s whitewater events (one kayak, two Canadian canoe), and a women’s whitewater kayak singles. The flatwater events were contested at Lake Lanier (formally Lake Sidney Lanier) in Gainesville, Georgia, which also hosted the rowing events in 1996.
The whitewater competition was at the Ocoee Whitewater Center near Ducktown, Tennessee, well north of Atlanta. The course was essentially a natural course built in the dry riverbed of the Upper Ocoee River, created by a dam diversion. That section of the river had been dry since 1942, after the construction of a downriver dam. But the 1996 organizers were concerned about the expense of building an artificial whitewater course, as in München (1972) and Barcelona (1992), and hoped to begin the precedent of a natural whitewater course, although the 2000-08 courses have all been artificially constructed. The dry riverbed of the Upper Ocoee was flooded specifically for a period prior to the 1996 Olympics, to allow pre-Olympic competition and training and the Olympic events.