Historic double gold for Kiwi paddler
New Zealand kayaker Aimee Fisher has created history after collecting double gold at the under-23 canoe sprint world championships in Romania overnight.
The Hawke’s Bay paddler took out the K1 200m and 500m double in a withering display, leaving some of the best paddlers in the world in her wake.
New Zealand’s Aimee Fisher celebrates gold in the K1 500m final at the under-23 world championships in Romania. Photo by Balint Vekassy/canoephotography.com
They’re the first gold medals won by a New Zealander at the agegroup world championships; the only other placing was a bronze in 2013, ironically by Fisher in her last outing when she paired with Kim Thompson to finish third in the under-18 K2 500m.
The 22-year-old used the results as the perfect way to farewell coach Rene Olsen, who has guided her for the last three years with the national K4 squad but now leaves to join the Great British coaching team.
“Even though it was a really stressful day and we had some really big goals, I just tried to enjoy it as much as possible,” Fisher said. “I’ve got this track record of really shanking it on finals day, even though I had some wicked races earlier in the week, but I just wanted it so bad, for Rene, to send him out in style and thank him for everything he’s done.”
That emotion came through after she triumphed in the K1 200m, finishing in 40.096secs, 0.568 faster than Dora Lucz (Hungary) who beat her in a World Cup final earlier in the season. She then had less than 4hrs to prepare for her K1 500m final but admits she reached into her stockpile of recent K4 performances and pulled out plenty of confidence.
“I’m not a big fan of K1 500s and I usually doubt myself but I thought ‘hang on, we’ve put in some awesome team boat races over that distance this season’ and I’ve been feeling really strong and really fit so there was no reason why I can’t come out here today and put in a really strong performance.”
The margin of victory was even greater, storming home in 1.48.948, more than 2secs quicker than Australian Alyssa Ball.
There was further delight for the New Zealand team with Mana’s Kurtis Imrie finishing fifth in the under-23 K1 500m. He clocked 1:37.736, just 2.136secs behind Ukrainian Oleh Kukharyk, while he also joined Taris Harker, Ben Duffy and Karl McMurtrie in finishing ninth in the K4 final.
In total, five Kiwi crews made A finals at the championships, six made B finals and two made C finals, a huge improvement on last year when there was one A final appearance, five B finals and a solitary C final.
Canoe Racing New Zealand chief executive Mark Weatherall paid tribute to the work coaches Fred Loyer, Olsen, Mark Watson and Paul Fidow have done, as well as the support from Greg Adlam and Alison Pritchard.
“We’ve had amazing buy-in from our club coaches as well, giving up their time and attending development camps with our national coaches to make sure everyone’s on the same page, and these outstanding results are a testament to all that work put in behind the scenes,” Weatherall said. “It’s given our athletes a great base to work from and we’re hugely excited by the development and keen to invest further in the next generation of paddlers coming through.”
For Fisher, however, this is something of a warm-up - she leaves for France tomorrow to link up with Lisa Carrington, Kayla Imrie and Caitlin Ryan for a crack at the senior world championship K4 title in the Czech Republic later in August.
“The girls have been really supportive this weekend and it’s going to be an exciting month training over here and building into the senior world champs. It’s going to be cool seeing what we can do.”