Top coach joins NZ kayaking ranks
Nathan Luce has keenly followed the progress of New Zealand’s top female kayakers - now the Australian-based coach will get to have a first-hand impact on their quest for Olympic titles.
Canoe Racing New Zealand has recruited Luce from the South Australian Sports Institute to be Gordon Walker’s assistant as national women’s coach.
The 43-year-old has a long pedigree in producing top paddlers, having been involved with multiple world and Olympic champion Adam van Koeverden in his native Canada, coached the United States national team and more recently worked with some of the top Australian paddlers.
Now he’ll join a New Zealand squad coming off a brilliant world championship performance in August, with Lisa Carrington winning a seventh consecutive major crown in the K1 200m, pairing with Caitlin Ryan to win the K2 500m title, adding silver in the K1 500m, then linking with Ryan,
Kayla Imrie and Aimee Fisher in the bronze-winning K4 500m.
“To work with what is arguably now the top women's kayak programme in the world is one of the main things that attracted me to the role,” Luce said. “To be a part of this team moving forward will be a massive honour and I'm excited to work with such dedicated and established athletes and with a coach like Gordy, someone that I've gotten to know and have respected over many years.”
Luce was a Canadian kayaking representative before beginning full-time coaching in 2002. He coached the United States team from 2005-2009, before joining the Australian system.
Highlights in that tenure have included being part of the coaching staff of the gold medal-winning Australian K4 crew in London and seeing numerous South Australia Institute paddlers competing for Australia at senior, under-23 and under-18 world championships.
The New Zealand programme has steadily built depth around Carrington’s exploits, with Fisher winning the K1 200-500m double at the under-23 world championships this year and an under-23 women’s K4 finishing eighth in the A final.
“Lisa has obviously ignited the gold medal standard while Caitlin, Aimee and Kayla have quickly stepped up to her level over the past couple years,” Luce added. “Not only are they physically strong and imposing but they have proved through their 2017 international campaign to be lethal in various crew combinations, which is bad news for the rest of world. They have set the bar high so now it's our job to maintain that level all the way into Tokyo.”
CRNZ chief executive Mark Weatherall described Luce’s appointment as a significant coup.
“We’re delighted to be able to appoint Nathan as our assistant women’s coach and his linking with Gordon will form a formidable partnership,” Weatherall said. “We’ve just come off our most successful world championships ever and that was obviously a major enticement for Nathan, to be able to work with the talented group of female paddlers New Zealand now boasts.”
Luce will start his New Zealand commitments in early December, with Carrington, Ryan and Fisher involved in this weekend’s Blue Lakes 2 regatta at Tikitapu in Rotorua.