The Dutch canoe team ended a 32-year-drought the European Olympic qualifiers in Hungary. ICF

Selma Konijn and Ruth Vorsselman ended the 32-year-old drought by storming to victory in the women's K2 500 in Szeged and qualifying for Paris 2024, as well as Poland and four neutral athletes.

The Dutch women's canoe sprint Olympic quota had been bare for more than 30 years, but no more after Wednesday, while Poland and the two crews representing neutral athletes also picked up tickets to the upcoming Games on the opening day of the European Olympic qualifiers in Hungary.

Konijn and Vorsselman triumphed after an epic struggle against the neutral crew of Svetlana Chernigovskaya and Anastasiia Dolgova. "It's been such a long time, it seems a little bit unreal to be going there," Vorsselman said after the victory. "We knew if we did a really good race, it would be possible, so we had to believe in it. But it was also a bit scary." Konijn was amazed herself. "I did believe in it, but it was also scary to say, because it is so unreal," she said.

Canoeing has two Olympic disciplines, with Sprint introduced at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin and Slalom at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Paracanoe also made its debut at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Poland fell agonisingly short of earning a men’s K4 quota at last year’s world championships, but on Wednesday two of its members guaranteed the country will have at least two athletes competing in the kayak in Paris. Jakub Stepun and Przemyslaw Korsak took victory in the men’s K2 500, finishing ahead of the neutral team of Uladzislau Kravets and Dzimitry Natynchyk. "The main word in this competition is believe," Stepun stated. "We thought we could do it here, and our coach believed in us. And now we are going to Paris, to the Olympic Games."

Two crews representing the neutral athletes also earned Olympic quotas. Alexey Korovashkov and Ivan Shtyl, both 2012 Olympians, won the men's C2 500, while Anhelina Bardanouskaya and Volha Klimava won the women's C2 500.

The competition in Szeged has been politically tainted since he Ukrainian Olympic Committee protested against the participation of Russia and Belarus in the qualifiers, as Sports Minister Matwij Bidnyj, the President of the Ukrainian Olympic Committee (UOC), Wadim Gutzait, and the President of the national Canoe Federation, Ihor Sliwinskyj, demanded the exclusion of a total of nine athletes from Russia said countries in a joint joint letter directed at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Canoe Federation.

With war between Russia and Ukraine now over two years and casualties mounting, Kiev argues that the participation of both countries in team competitions is prohibited by the IOC, as in other sports. But a year ago, the board of the International Canoe Federation (ICF) decided to readmit Russian and Belarusian athletes "who do not support the actions of their country in Ukraine" as neutral individuals. The world federation referred to its rules and regulations in regards to the competition in Hungary.

European Olympic qualifiers will continue on Thursday in the men's K1 and C1 1000, and the women's K1 500 and C1 200. The ICF Paracanoe World Championships will also get underway.