World and Olympic champion Lisa Carrington will skip her favoured K1 200m event on the upcoming ICF World Cup series in Europe, instead turning her focus to New Zealand’s burgeoning team boats.
With a record eight-strong female squad named by Canoe Racing New Zealand selectors, Carrington will mostly compete in K2 and K4 combinations in the first two events of the season, in Portugal and Hungary, although she will return to the K1 500m ranks at the latter event.
It means rising stars Caitlin Ryan (North Shore) and Aimee Fisher (Hawke’s Bay) will get starts in the individual boats, with Ryan tackling the K1 500m in Portugal and national champion Fisher paddling the K1 200m in Hungary. Fisher made a World Cup final in the sprint distance in Duisburg, Germany, last year.
The New Zealand team flies out this weekend, heading for a training camp in Portugal, before the World Cup starts on May 19.
After the unprecedented success of their K4 boat last year – Fisher, Ryan, Kayla Imrie and Jaimee Lovett finished fifth in Rio – selectors have given national women’s coach Rene Olsen two of the larger boats for the World Cups. Carrington replaces fellow Whakatane paddler Lovett – now retired – in one boat, while Kim Thompson, Briar McLeely, Rebecca Cole and Britney Ford will form a second quartet, competing in both K4 200m and 500m events at both rounds.
“Being able to put two quality K4 boats onto the world stage is a big achievement for a country the size of New Zealand,” Olsen said. “I’m incredibly proud of both the depth we’ve developed and that our best athletes have an ambition to be a part of the team boats now. The exciting part is that there’s still a long way to go.”
Carrington and Fisher will also combine in the K2 200m in Portugal, alongside McLeely and Imrie, with Carrington and Fisher also racing the K2 500m alongside Thompson and Cole.
Fisher and Ryan will race the K2 200m in Hungary, with McLeely and Imrie, and Carrington and Ryan will combine for the K2 500m, again joined by Thompson and Cole.
The New Zealand team will return after the second World Cup at the end of May, before a new team will be named to tackle the world championships in Račice, Czech Republic, from August 23-27.
New Zealand team: Lisa Carrington (Eastern Bay of Plenty), Rebecca Cole (North Shore), Aimee Fisher (Hawke’s Bay), Britney Ford (Poverty Bay), Kayla Imrie (Mana), Briar McLeely (North Shore), Caitlin Ryan (North Shore), Kim Thompson (Poverty Bay).
World Cup 1 (Montemor-o-Velho, Portugal) – May 19-21
World Cup 2 (Szeged, Hungary) – May 26-28