Fisher delivers kayaking double
Aimee Fisher has further cemented her place as Lisa Carrington’s heir apparent after a commanding performance at the New Zealand canoe racing championships at Lake Karapiro.
The 22-year-old Hawke’s Bay paddler capitalised on Carrington’s absence from individual boats at the three-day regatta by winning the K1 200 and 500m double.
Hawke’s Bay’s Aimee Fisher won her first K1 200m title at New Zealand canoe racing championships at Lake Karapiro. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media
Fisher’s reward is likely to be a spot racing alongside the world and Olympic champion on the ICF World Cup series this year, although she was more delighted with the mental breakthrough that she made with her twin wins.
“Coming into this weekend, my only goal was to be brave in the 500m and that’s the first time I’ve ever managed to do it in a race,” Fisher said, after heading off Olympic K4 teammate Caitlin Ryan (North Shore) by 0.80secs in the final. “Every other time, I’d chicken out but I’ve done a couple of 500s at training where I’d been getting the hang of it, being aggressive off the line. To do that in race conditions, that was the real test. Caitlin and I had a great battle in the first half of the race and I managed to bring it home.”
Fisher admitted she was terrified of the 500m, knowing vividly the incredible toll it takes, but she was bolstered by support from her Hawke’s Bay club.
“You just paddle into this darkness and everything hurts - you can nearly taste blood when you’re paddling and your muscles have been scorched by lactic acid. “Coming through the 200m, I heard all these kids and when you’ve got kids running down the side of the bank cheering your name, you’ve got to rise. That gave me a lot of courage and I charged home.”
Ryan also finished second to Fisher in Friday’s K1 200m and the two paddlers are likely to pair up as a K2 combination in Europe this season.
Carrington didn’t go home empty handed, collecting four golds in various team boats, alongside retiring Eastern Bay teammate Jaimee Lovett, another member of the Rio K4 boat.
Lisa Carrington (left) and Jaimee Lovett helped secure yet another national title for Eastern Bay, winning the K2 200m title at New Zealand canoe racing championships at Lake Karapiro.
Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media
It was a sweet way for Lovett to finish, continuing her record of winning medals at all 12 national championships she’s attended.
“It was a nice way to finish things, especially coming in without any pressure and no expectation of performing,” Lovett said. “Just getting out there and enjoying the sport for what it is, was really cool and coming away with some medals was just as good.”
The men’s racing was dominated by Wellington 21-year-old Kurtis Imrie, who came within 1.37secs - and an Olympian - from creating history.
Imrie, the younger brother of Olympic K4 paddler Kayla, took home four gold medals, including rare wins in the K1 200m and 500m finals. Yesterday’s K1 1000m showdown saw an intriguing showdown, with Imrie pushing Rio Olympian and Mana teammate Marty McDowell all the way.
“I was hoping I could give him a bit of a push - he had too much class - but I was pretty stoked to be even that close to him, knowing that he went to the Olympics,” Imrie said. “I was over the moon though and hopefully at the next Olympics, I can be there as well.”
After a decent post-Olympic break, McDowell finished in 3:37.05, with Imrie clocking 3:38.42, well clear of Poverty Bay rival Quaid Thompson, who was third in 3:44.05.
Imrie had earlier beaten Bay of Plenty’s Taris Harker in Friday’s sprint decider. Today he added the K1 500m title with a commanding 2.75sec margin over Thompson, although Thompson had a measure of revenge at the end of a big weekend of racing, capturing the 5km crown with Imrie third.
It’s been a long fightback for Imrie, after contracting glandular fever two years ago, but things have improved markedly since joining the national men’s programme in Auckland in December under coach Fred Loyer.
“The whole aspect of training has completely changed moving to Auckland, learning how to train properly with your heart-rate in a certain zone and being able to maintain the hard stuff,” he explained. “My problem has always been I’d ‘fly and die’ so I’m just working on a race plan so that I’m evenly splitting through the race.”
His other golds came in team boats, combining with McDowell to win the K2 1000m final, and with McDowell, Ethan Moore and Glen Muirhead in the K4 1000m.
Despite his sprinting success, the longer distances are where he sees his future success.
“I’m definitely targeting the 1000m at the under-23 world championships this year and it’s a possibility to race the ICF world cup series but I’ll have a debrief with Fred and see what he wants me to do. It’s just great to be back racing and feeling fit again.”