CRNZ Blog

Kiwi kayakers set to get coaching boost

Author -  Karen Simpson

Darryl Fitzgerald (left) and Zac Franich finished sixth in their K2 1000m semifinal last night and will race tomorrow's C final in Milan. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media

Kiwi kayakers set to get coaching boost

Darryl Fitzgerald (left) and Zac Franich finished sixth in their K2 1000m semifinal last night and will race tomorrow's C final in Milan. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media
2015 Darryl and Zac.jpg
Down but not out - New Zealand kayakers Zac Franich and Darryl Fitzgerald have already picked themselves off the ground after missing direct qualification for next year's Olympics overnight.

The K2 1000m pair finished sixth in their semifinal in Milan and will race tomorrow's C final. They needed a top-six finish to qualify a boat for Rio de Janeiro but instead, will have to try to go through Oceania qualifying in February.

"We're both happy with how we executed the race but the standard is very, very high, especially being pre-Olympic year," Franich said. "We did our best - unfortunately that wasn't quite good enough - but we'll take a lot away from this and look to build for the future."

Together with K1 paddler Marty McDowell, who didn't make it out of a tough 1000m heat overnight, the pair will get an immediate boost from Canoe Racing New Zealand in the form of a dedicated national men's coach. CRNZ has already short-listed candidates, with strong interest from overseas, as the organisation looks to emulate the progress made by national women's coach Rene Olsen.

"Having a national men's coach will make a huge difference to our programme, as we'll being able to get consistency in our coaching and the new coach will be able to drive a lot of the culture changes we're making," CRNZ chief executive Mark Weatherall said. "We've never lacked the talent in our athletes but the results overnight emphasised how important having leadership and direction in our programme will be."

Although he's only been in the job less than a year, Olsen has made huge strides with the women's K4 squad this year, with Jaimee Lovett, Caitlin Ryan, Aimee Fisher and Kayla Imrie winning a world cup round earlier in the season and hoping to qualify for Rio this weekend. The quartet have also made huge individual improvements with strength and fitness testing, with Lovett explaining Olsen's influence was still helping as they approach race-day.

"We've had some really good sessions and every time we got on the water, it was getting better every day and we were all still learning and improving," Lovett said. "Even in the last week, we've managed to learn a bit more and go a little bit faster and all the fine-tuning is going really well. Everyone's feeling pretty positive and looking forward to racing." 

McDowell had the unluckiest race of the day, drawing the fastest heat of the morning and finishing sixth to miss the semifinals by one spot. His 3:40.005 time would've been comfortably enough to progress in four of the other six heats.

His international commitments aren't finished, however, as the three-time New Zealand surf ski champion is heading to Australia next week to compete in the International Surf Lifesaving Challenge.

Kiwi kayakers set to get coaching boost

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