New Zealand canoe sprint championships - Olympians in action

13/02/2015 by Steve Knowles
Marty McDowell made a big statement on the opening day of the New Zealand canoe sprint championships at Lake Karapiro today, romping to a commanding win in the K1 1000m.

The 28-year-old Mana club member triumphed by nearly 5secs, winning in 3mins 45.78secs, but just as impressive was the quality of paddlers he left in his wake.

Second place went to Olympic silver medalist Ben Fouhy, making a strong comeback, while 2012 Olympian Darryl Fitzgerald was third, a second behind Fouhy.

National champion Marty McDowell (left) is congratulated by former world champion Ben Fouhy after their K1 1000m race today.

Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services

"The plan was to go out hard and try and get in front, then just hold on, though I was a bit worried about Ben at the end because he's always had a good finish and I didn't know what to expect," McDowell, who won his first national title at that distance last year, said. "I'd done enough training to be confident though - it's been a big year and it's good to come to nationals and have it pay off."

Fouhy, who will be 36 next month, was delighted with his own form after returning to the sport late last year but was equally impressed with his former New Zealand teammate McDowell.

"Marty's going exceptionally well - that was a really impressive race from him and I don't think I've seen someone paddle that well at nationals for a while," Fouhy said.

"You don't line up to come second but realistically, I'm very happy with that - I couldn't have asked for more really."

National selectors will soon be picking a team to try and qualify boats for next year's Olympics and these national championships - which continue through until Sunday - will have a big bearing on that team.  McDowell will pair with Mana clubmate Kurtis Imrie - who won the under-23 K1 1000m today - in the K2 events over the next two days to showcase their variety, although Fouhy has also thrown his name back in the ring with fellow veteran and former Olympian Mike Walker.

The elder statesmen spent a month training on Australia's Sunshine Coast over summer and have come back with renewed vigour.
"I had four weeks of really good training and came here without knowing how I was going to go," Fouhy explained. "It all really depends on what the bosses say and whether they see a use for me - they've got to be really strategic this year with Olympic qualifying and they've got to get the right combinations.  But it's nice to come back and it was really good to see some of those young guys paddling so strong and moving their boat well."

Also moving a boat well was Olympic and world champion Lisa Carrington, who opened her nationals campaign with a comfortable win in the K1 500m.  The Eastern Bay club member was nearly 2secs quicker than Australia's Naomi Flood, with Flood's K2 partner Jo Brigden-Jones third.  The next best New Zealander was North Shore's Caitlin Ryan, who toppled teammate Teneale Hatton for the first time.

Lisa Carrington (Eastern Bay) on her way to victory in the K1 500m title at the national kayaking championships at Lake Karapiro today
Ryan helped produce another big upset, however, pairing with young Hawke's Bay star Aimee Fisher to win the K2 500m, upstaging Carrington and Eastern Bay teammate Jaimee Lovett, with Brigden-Jones and Flood third.

McDowell also picked up a second gold medal, this time in a composite men's K4 1000m boat, with North Shore's Jasper Bats, Ben Tinnelly and Zac Franich. 

A number of Oceania paddlers are attending the championships, which boast record numbers, particularly in the agegroup girls divisions.
Tomorrow's program will see finals in the women's K2 200m and the men's K2 1000m. 
Men: K1 1000m: Marty McDowell (Mana) 3mins 45.78secs 1, Ben Fouhy (North Shore) 3:50.51 2, Darryl Fitzgerald (Poverty Bay) 3:51.49 3, Zac Quickenden (Arawa) 3:53.16 4, Jasper Bats (North Shore) 3:53.19 5.
Women: K1 500m: Lisa Carrington (Eastern Bay) 1:55.87 1, Naomi Flood (Australia) 1:57.79 2, Jo Brigden-Jones (Australia) 1:58.91 3, Caitlin Ryan (North Shore) 1:59.05 4, Teneale Hatton (North Shore) 1:59.39 5.