Kiwi paddlers follow Carrington’s lead

Aimee Fisher (left) and Caitlin Ryan receive their K2 500m silver medals at the world cup in Portugal overnight. Photo by Rene Olsen.

Lisa Carrington continues to blaze a merry path on the world kayaking scene but a quartet of fellow female Kiwis are eagerly following her lead.
Carrington, the world and Olympic K1 200m champion, collected yet another world cup gold medal overnight with a narrow victory in the K1 500m final in Portugal.  WIth barely enough time to warm down, she then sat back and watched teammates Caitlin Ryan and Aimee Fisher open their season with a shock silver in the K2 500m final.
In just their third-ever race together, the duo powered their way down the blustery Montemor-o-Velho course and finished just 0.36secs adrift of Hungarians Anna Kárász and Ninetta Vad, after qualifying for the final by winning their heat.
“The heats were a bit of a blur but we debriefed last night and came out settled and focused ready to race in the final,” Ryan explained.  “We weren’t too focused on the result in the final; instead we were just making sure we got our rhythm right and using the strength we’ve been building on in the gym all year and to come away with a silver with a good mate to celebrate with is an amazing feeling.”
They didn’t have long to celebrate, climbing into their specialist K4 boat with Kayla Imrie and Jaimee Lovett for the afternoon session and immediately picking up where they left off.
In the second heat of the K4 500m, the quartet overcame a sloppy start to haul in the Portuguese team, clocking 1min 39.56secs to again qualify directly for tonight’s A final.
Although several top European paddlers have skipped the first world cup, it’s still a promising start for the foursome, who Canoe Racing New Zealand have invested heavily in with an eye on next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.  They will also contest tonight’s K2 200m race, which is a straight final.
Carrington, meanwhile, kept her nose in front of the chasing pack by winning her K1 200m heat and clocking the fastest time ahead of tonight’s final.
She didn’t have things all her own way in the 500m decider, however, with Hungarians Anna Kárász and Krisztina Fazekas-Zur putting plenty of pressure on her at the start.
The top-three all finished within a second of each other, although Carrington’s composure proved crucial as she clocked 1:48.01, beating rising star Kárász by just 0.56secs.
Marty McDowell was the other Kiwi in finals action in finals, knocking nearly 15secs off his semifinal time to finish seventh in the K1 1000m final, won by Portugal’s Fernando Pimenta.
McDowell backed that up later in the K1 500m, finishing third in his heat behind former Olympic champion Adam Van Koeverden (Canada) and France’s Cyrille Carre, with the top-three going straight to the A final.
Scott Bicknell will contest the B final of the K1 200m, meanwhile, after drawing a wide lane and being buffeted by the strong crosswinds in his semifinal.

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