Aimee Fisher set to fly at junior Canoe Sprint’s Worlds
Aimee Fisher was a wide-eyed 18-year-old rookie last time she competed at canoe sprint’s world age group championships.
That was in 2013, when the Hawke’s Bay kayaker finished an agonising fifth in the under-18 K1 200m and won New Zealand’s first junior worlds medal with bronze in the K2 500m with Kim Thompson.
The Fisher who will line up at this week’s championships in Romania is a vastly different paddler, however, boasting experience at senior world championships, the Rio Olympics and having picked up a swag of World Cup gold.
Reigning national K1 200m and 500m champion Aimee Fisher is set for a crack at the under-23 world championships this week. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media
She’ll lead a 23-strong team on a rising curve, with medals on their minds.
”It’s great coming back to the junior worlds and being the old hand in the Kiwi team,” Fisher said. “I’m probably more nervous than anyone but I am getting much better at finding my answers under pressure and hopefully I can share some of the coping skills I've learnt with the younger athletes.”
Fisher has become a core member of the senior K4 team that finished fifth in Rio and looms as a serious contender at next month’s world championships but her individual K1 credentials have also taken a big jump.
She won the K1 200m and 500m double at the national championships in February, then finished second in the K1 200m at the second World Cup of the season in May this year. The gold medalist in that race was Hungarian Dóra Lucz, who looms as one of Fisher’s key rivals this week, alongside Danish sprint star Emma Jørgensen, who won K1 500m silver in Rio.
Ironically, Jørgensen won gold four years ago in Canada when Fisher was fifth, with just 1.478secs separating the top-five. It was that race that has been the key to Fisher’s subsequent success.
“Missing that medal felt like the end of the world but it was just the beginning. That's when I started training properly and that’s the thing I would want to share with my teammates this week. What happens at this competition won’t define them - no matter how overwhelmingly important this weekend feels, it’s just another step on their journey.”
This will be the last year she qualifies for the agegroup championships, with added motivation to farewell departing national women’s coach Rene Olsen in style.
Her female under-23 teammates this week are all members of the New Zealand high performance squad, with Thompson (Poverty Bay), Rebecca Cole (North Shore), Elise Legarth (Hawke’s Bay) and Britney Ford (Poverty Bay) joining forces in the K4 500m.
Cole and Briar McLeely were fifth in the under-23 K2 500m last year and Cole and Thompson were part of the K4 that finished ninth the previous year.
A K4 combination also headlines the men’s ranks, with Taris Harker (Bay of Plenty), Ben Duffy (Arawa), Kurtis Imrie (Mana) and Karl McMurtrie (North Shore) set to pair up in the team boat and Quaid Thompson (Poverty Bay) and Max Brown (Whanganui) tackling the K1 distances.
Racing starts on Thursday night (NZ time) on the Argeș River in Pitești.
Junior: Women: Samalulu Clifton (North Shore), Olivia Brett (Arawa), Danielle Watson (Mana), Alex Bermingham (Poverty Bay), Hannah Baker (Waitara), Danielle Watson (Mana), Brooklyn Saunders (Mana).
Men: Ben McCallum (Waitara), Hamish Legarth (Hawke’s Bay), Dylan Neal-Hill (Arawa), Ethan Moore (Mana), Jake Koekemoer (Arawa)
Under-23: Women: Kim Thompson (Poverty Bay), Rebecca Cole (North Shore), Elise Legarth (Hawke’s Bay), Britney Ford (Poverty Bay), Aimee Fisher (Hawke’s Bay).
Men: Quaid Thompson (Poverty Bay), Taris Harker (Bay of Plenty), Max Brown (Whanganui), Ben Duffy (Arawa), Kurtis Imrie (Mana), Karl McMurtrie (North Shore).