The new role will provide consistency across the three programmes of sprint, slalom and paracanoe, with the three head coaches reporting directly to the performance director.
Olsen, a former sprint and marathon canoeist who represented Denmark in the sport, has plied his trade as a high-performance coach for over 12 years.
His recent tenure as the head coach of Canoe Racing New Zealand’s national women’s side coincided in a golden haul at the first two World Cup events of the season this year.
Olsen’s appointment will be a strong addition to the programme, which will hope to build on the four medals that the sport won at the Rio 2016 Games.
Speaking in light of his appointment, Olsen, who will take up the role on September 15, said: “I am delighted to be taking on the new role of Head Coach for the sprint programme.
“Going forward I am focused on developing the performance of our senior athletes and supporting the coaching team to ensure that we achieve our ambitions for the Tokyo 2020 mission.”
Paul Ratcliffe, performance director of British Canoeing, also welcomed Olsen’s appointment and heralded the changing of the guard in the canoe sprint programme leadership role as a positive move.
“Rene Olsen has the attributes that we are looking for in the role of head coach and I am delighted that he will be leading the senior sprint programme in this new role,” said Ratcliffe.
“Following the 2017 Canoe Sprint World Championships and as competition in year one of the current cycle comes to an end, we have begun the review process to explore how we can continue to improve the performance support around our athletes in preparation for Tokyo and beyond.”