Six young kayakers are hoping to continue New Zealand’s proud paddling prowess at Olympic level.
Rotorua’s George Snook and Rivey Mutton, Tauranga’s Kahlia Cullwick, Finn Anderson and Oliver Puchner and Hawke’s Bay’s Henry Hall have been selected for the Youth Olympic Games qualifying event in Spain in April, with a ticket to the October’s Youth Olympics in Argentina at stake.
The paddlers will race both sprint and slalom, with Canoe Slalom New Zealand and Canoe Racing New Zealand joining forces to send the team, with help from the Olympic Solidarity fund.
Like their senior namesakes, the Youth Olympic Games are held every four years, with 28 sports featured on the summer programme. Athletes are aged from 15 to 18 and come from more than 200 nationals around the world. The games are used as a stepping stone for athletes, while also promoting Olympic ideals.
Canoe Slalom New Zealand spokesperson Sue Clarke said the selection of the six paddlers was a way of helping the next Luuka Jones or Lisa Carringtons achieve their Olympic goals.
“Most of these paddlers have come through the intermediate-aged AIMS Games ranks and some of them are already starting to feature at a national agegroup level so this gives them another clear step in the Olympic pathway,” Clarke said.
All nations must attend the qualification event in Barcelona, with spots in the Youth Olympic Games allocated on a continental quota basis.
Girls: K1: Rivey Mutton (Rotorua), Kahlia Cullwick (Mount Maunganui College). C1: Kahlia Cullwick.
Boys: K1: George Snook (Rotorua Lakes High School), Henry Hall (Taradale High School). C1: Finn Anderson (Tauranga Boys’ College), Oliver Puchner (Tauranga Boys’ College).