Lisa Carrington has vowed to find something extra for next year’s Olympics, despite a record-breaking performance at the canoe racing world championships over the weekend.
The 26-year-old Whakatane paddler claimed her fourth consecutive world title in the K1 200m in Milan overnight, adding to the K1 500m crown she collected for the first time a day earlier.
Although her Polish rival Marta Walczykiewicz jumped out to a fast start in the shorter final, Carrington soon drew level and won going away, in 40.060secs. Walczykiewicz was second, 0.640secs back, with Teresa Portela third in 41.248.
“It was pretty tough having four days of racing – the 200m is my favored race but it’s also really hard to back up two big races,” Carrington said. “Results aside, I’m really happy with my performances in the year that has just been, building into these world championships, and hopefully we can keep improving. That’s going to be really tough to do – obviously we’ll keep doing the positive things that are working but we’ll keep looking for other things to improve on.”
The reigning Olympic 200m champion is now a firm favourite to repeat her double-win in Rio de Janeiro in 12 months’ time, while the list of milestones she’s now ticked off is significant.
With her two gold medals this year, Carrington overtakes Paul MacDonald as New Zealand’s most successful world championship athlete, with five. She joins MacDonald as the only Kiwi to win two golds at the same championship and she is the first women in 16 years – and only third in history – to hold both the 200m and 500m titles at the same time.
Canoe Racing New Zealand boss Mark Weatherall paid tribute to the paddling star.
“Lisa truly is worth her weight in gold, not just for the glittering titles she brings back to our shores but also the role modeling she provides,” Weatherall said. “She’s such a focused, disciplined athlete and having her in a New Zealand team rubs off on the other athletes. You can see how important this is by the way the K4 team has lifted this year, while a number of our younger paddlers shone at the recent under-23 world championships. She’s a benchmark for all paddlers to aspire to.”
The women’s K4 crew of Jaimee Lovett, Caitlin Ryan, Aimee Fisher and Kayla Imrie created their own piece of history over the weekend, finishing third in their semifinal to advance to the A final. Although they were ninth in a thrilling decider, with Belarus, Hungary and Germany dominating and the Kiwis just 3.745secs behind, it means the Olympic qualifying standard has been met and a New Zealand women’s K4 boat is likely to compete in Rio de Janeiro for the first time.
“We gave it what we had on the day and I am so proud to have these girls beside me for another year of improvements,” Ryan said. “It’s all learning and it’s exciting that we have so much more to show.”
It’s been 23 years since New Zealand last had an Olympic K4 boat, with Richard Boyle, Finn O’Connor, Stephen Richards, and Mark Scheib making the semifinals in Barcelona in 1992, after earlier men’s K4 crews in 1984 and 1988.
There has never been a women’s K4 meet the qualifying standard until now, however, and if they’re confirmed in the Olympic team early next year, the current crew will more than double the number of females to have competed at that level.
Of the 24 New Zealanders who have competed in canoe racing at the Olympic games, only three – Erin Taylor, Carrington and Teneale Hatton – have been in the women’s ranks.
New Zealand canoe sprint world champions:
1985 (Mechelen) K2 500m (Ian Ferguson/Paul MacDonald)
1987 (Duisburg) K1 500m (Paul MacDonald)
1987 (Duisburg) K2 1000m (Ian Ferguson/Paul MacDonald)
2003 (Gainesville) K1 1000m (Ben Fouhy)
2011 (Szeged) K1 200m (Lisa Carrington)
2013 (Duisburg) K1 200m (Lisa Carrington)
2013 (Duisburg) K1 5000m (Teneale Hatton)
2014 (Moscow) K1 200m (Lisa Carrington)
2014 (Moscow) K1 1000m (Teneale Hatton)
2015 (Milan) K1 500m (Lisa Carrington)
2015 (Milan) K1 200m (Lisa Carrington)