NZ kayakers finish worlds on a high
A Lisa Carrington-led New Zealand kayaking team has celebrated its most successful world championship campaign, winning two more medals on the final day of the 2017 edition in the Czech Republic.
A day after winning the K2 500m title with Caitlin Ryan and collecting silver in the K1 500m, Carrington added an incredible seventh consecutive major crown in the K1 200m, extending a streak that began in 2011 and includes two Olympic crowns.
She still had enough energy to help her big-boat crew - alongside Kayla Imrie, Aimee Fisher and Ryan - to the bronze medal in the K4 500m, unable to pull back the pace-setting Hungarian and German crews.
The four medals is one better than the three won by New Zealand crews in 1987, 2013 and 2014 and Carrington was tired but jubilant after continuing her K1 200m legacy.
“I do really enjoy it, I love going out there and performing, and the girls that I’m racing against inspire me to race as fast as I can,” Carrington said.
“It’s really difficult, the program doesn’t really allow for it. I hope that in the future we can do more, and there’s more leniency around it. And there’s a lot of really amazing paddlers in New Zealand as well, so we’ve got to give everyone a chance. I love doing every event, and I’m lucky to have that chance only because I have such a great team behind me.”
Her time of 38.433secs wasn’t far away from the world record 37.898secs she set in Moscow three years ago, with Denmark's Emma Jorgenson second 0.568secs back and Poland’s Marta Walczykiewicz third in 39.559.
The Hungarian K4 women’s team, meanwhile, emulated their Olympic efforts to regain their 500m title.
New Zealand went into the race as favourites but the Hungarians paddled the perfect race to see off long-time rivals, Germany, with New Zealand finishing with the bronze. In an absorbing contest, the Hungarian crew got their noses in front by halfway and held on impressively to win in 1min 29.784s, with the Germans 0.300s back and New Zealand clocking 1:30.215.
Canoe Racing New Zealand chief executive Mark Weatherall said Carrington’s 10-race effort over the championship would rank as one of New Zealand’s great sporting achievements and called her a ‘once in a lifetime’ athlete.
He also paid tribute to retired K4 stalwart Jaimee Lovett, former national women’s coach Rene Olsen and current coach Gordon Walker for their efforts in helping launch a culture of excellence in the team boat ranks that continues to filter down through the sport.
“There have definitely been some hurdles along the way and but to see those four black-clad paddlers on the podium at a world championship is immensely satisfying and a very proud moment,” Weatherall said. “Three years ago, we set a plan in motion to build a team boat capable of performing on the world stage, which would in turn expand our stable of paddlers, but only in our wildest dreams did we expect this kind of result so soon. It’s a tribute to all the athletes involved, the coaches at both club and national level and the support from High Performance Sport New Zealand that our women’s programme is probably now up there with any other in the world.”
List of NZ world championship medalists:
1982: Alan Thompson (K1 1000m silver); Alan Thompson/Paul MacDonald (K2 500m silver)
1983: Alan Thompson (K1 1000m bronze); Ian Ferguson (K1 500m silver)
1985: Paul MacDonald/Ian Ferguson (K2 500m gold); Grant Bramwell (K1 10,000m bronze)
1987: Paul MacDonald/Ian Ferguson (K2 1000m gold); Paul MacDonald (K1 500m gold); Paul MacDonald/Ian Ferguson (K2 500m silver)
1990: Paul MacDonald/Ian Ferguson (K2 10,000m silver)
2003: Ben Fouhy (K1 1000m gold)
2006: Ben Fouhy (K1 1000m bronze)
2011: Lisa Carrington (K1 200m gold)
2013: Lisa Carrington (K1 200m gold); Teneale Hatton (K1 5000m gold); Lisa Carrington (K1 500m bronze)
2014: Lisa Carrington (K1 200m gold); Teneale Hatton (K1 1000m gold); Lisa Carrington (K1 500m silver)
2015: Lisa Carrington (K1 200m gold); Lisa Carrington (K1 500m gold)
2017: Lisa Carrington/Caitlin Ryan (K2 500m gold); Lisa Carrington (K1 200m gold); Lisa Carrington (K1 500m silver); Lisa Carrington/Kayla Imrie/Aimee Fisher/Caitlin Ryan (K4 500m bronze)