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NZ K4 chasing kayaking history

Author -  Karen Simpson

New Zealand’s K4 crew, from left, Caitlin Ryan, Aimee Fisher, Lisa Carrington and Kayla Imrie taste success at the Hungary round of the ICF World Cup series.

NZ K4 chasing kayaking history

New Zealand’s K4 crew, from left, Caitlin Ryan, Aimee Fisher, Lisa Carrington and Kayla Imrie taste success at the Hungary round of the ICF World Cup series.

Wk4_szeged.jpg

New Zealand’s dramatic rise in the K4 kayaking ranks could help consign one of the sport’s great rivalries to the history books.

Kiwis Kayla Imrie, Caitlin Ryan, Aimee Fisher and Lisa Carrington will try to emulate their recent world cup success when they paddle the K4 500m at the world championships in the Czech Republic town of Racice this week.  The quartet won consecutive world cup gold medals in Portugal and Hungary earlier in the season and will begin their campaign together on Friday night (NZ time) with a large target on their collective backs.

“With attention does come a little bit of pressure but focusing on the process and what we can all bring to this boat and to have fun on this trip is a very cool thing,” Ryan explained.

Two nations have utterly dominated the last three decades in women’s K4; between them, Germany/East Germany and Hungary have captured nearly every single major crown.

Only the 1984 Olympics - which East Germany and Hungary both boycotted, allowing Romania to win - and the shock victory by Belarus at the last world championships in 2015 provide the exceptions, as between them they captured 28 consecutive titles.

Normal service resumed in Rio de Janeiro last year, with Hungary winning gold and Germany silver, although the fast-rising Kiwis stunned many by finishing fifth.  Since then, Jaimee Lovett has retired and been replaced by Eastern Bay clubmate Carrington, while Fisher has gone on to claim the K1 200-500m double at the recent under-23 world championships.
Imrie and Ryan have also gone from strength to strength, with Ryan - who won the K1 500m title at the Portugal world cup - adamant there’s more to come.

“There's a lot of potential in our boat and a lot of talent in our boat but there's also a lot of fun. Looking into the future of the K4, just not overthinking it and not putting pressure on ourselves but enjoying this new test, keeping it exciting, keeping it fresh and trying out what this boat has to bring will be a really cool thing to see.”

Some feel the time is ripe for both Hungary and Germany to be picked off this week, with Hungary in particular seeing major changes in its boat, most notably the absence of paddling legend Danuta Kozak, who beat Carrington in the K1 500m final in Rio last year. Germany still has three of their 2016 Olympic silver medal crew paddling but have taken longer than most to reach their best in the post-Olympics year.

With New Zealand skipping the third world cup of the season, France came through to win, highlighting their credentials this week.  

Meanwhile, Ryan will also combine with Carrington in the K2 500m, beginning with heats on Thursday night, although Germany’s Franziska Weber and Tina Dietze will start as favourites.  That’s fine by Ryan, who is happy to fly under the radar with her illustrious teammate.

“Me and Lisa have enjoyed training together and we'e learned a lot from each other. The K2 is about expressing ourselves and expressing what we've done and the hard work we've put in. We're not going to put a number on it and we're not going to put a placing on it but we've got a really good base and we've got some really good performances to bring.”

Meanwhile, Christchurch paddler Scott Martlew has qualified for the B final in his KL3 200m event at the Paracanoing world championships.   Martlew finished third in his heat to progress to the semifinals, where he finished fifth in 42.186secs. That time was just 0.511secs off making the A final, clocking the 12th-fastest time across all three heats.

NZ K4 chasing kayaking history

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