Kiwi K4 off to flying start

The New Zealand K4 crew made a big statement on the second day of the canoe sprint world championships in the Czech Republic overnight, romping to a comprehensive heat win and going straight into tomorrownight’s A final.
Kayla Imrie, Caitlin Ryan, Aimee Fisher and Lisa Carrington powered away from their rivals to win in 1min 30.439sec, the fastest time of the day.
They were 2.639secs clear of the highly-rated German crew after easing up with the line in sight, joining Hungary and Poland in qualifying directly for the finals and skipping the semifinal stage.
The New Zealanders, minus Carrington, finished fifth at last year’s Olympics but the addition of the K1 star has seen the crew go through the world cup season unbeaten.   Imrie said the improvement is a reward for effort.
“There’s been a lot of work that we’ve put into it,” the Mana club paddler said. “This doesn’t come easy and there’s been a lot of sweat and tears along the way. I’m proud of all the girls and what we’ve done to get where we are today - hopefully the weekend turns out for us and we can put a good performance on.”
Carrington also comfortably won her K1 200m heat overnight, progressing through to the semifinals amid a hectic schedule for the 28-year-old double Olympic champion. Her time of 40.222 the quickest in the four preliminary races.
She moved to the front of the crew boat for the K4 heat, meanwhile, after helping win gold medals at the opening two World Cups sitting in the second seat on the boat.
“I’ve got an amazing group of girls behind me and they just make my job super easy,” Carrington said. “It’s just an awesome team effort. It’s so nice with the work that we’ve done that we are able to show it today.”
The Hungarians have been forced to rebuild their crew since winning back-to-back Olympic gold medals at London and Rio, with paddling legends Danuta Kozak and Gabriella Szabo not paddling this year.
Krisztina Fazekas-Zur, the only remaining member of the two Olympic crews, said there is always pressure on the Hungarians to perform.
“We know each other because we race in Hungary together but we are definitely new in the K4,” she said. “I’m very happy because they are giving me so much fire, there’s a really positive vibe. I really like it because, especially after the Olympics some time, the motivation level is not that high, so they are helping me a lot.”
Hungary and Germany have dominated the women’s K4 500 at both a World Championship and Olympic level since the late 1970’s but were upstaged by Belarus at the 2015 world titles.
Carrington has three big races ahead tonight, racing her K1 500m final, pairing with Ryan just over an hour later to race the K2 500m final and switching focus back to her K1 200m semifinal in the afternoon session. 
Paracanoist Scott Martlew also has his B final in the KL3 200m.
Photo by Balint Vekassy/