Toasting Success

Author -  Karen Simpson

Canoe Racing New Zealand’s toasted the great and good in the sport at the 2019 Sports and Recognition Awards in Rotorua at the weekend.

Toasting Success

Canoe Racing New Zealand’s toasted the great and good in the sport at the 2019 Sports and Recognition Awards in Rotorua at the weekend.

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Canoe Racing New Zealand’s toasted the great and good in the sport at the 2019 Sports and Recognition Awards in Rotorua at the weekend.

Hosted at the Holiday Inn, a raft of prestigious awards were handed out during the course of the evening to acknowledge the key contribution made by people both on and off the water.

The winner of the Ian Ferguson Cup as Canoe Sprint Athlete of the Year was Lisa Carrington after the 30-year-old enjoyed yet another dominant year on the world stage. The Auckland-based paddler, who originally hails from Ohope Beach, claimed three World Cup golds in Poznan before winning World Championship gold medals in the K1 200m and K1 500m.


Lisa was also one quarter of the successful women’s K4 500m crew – alongside Kayla Imrie, Caitlin Ryan and Aimee Fisher – which scooped the Macdonald/Thompson/Ferguson/Bramwell Cup for Team of the Year. The quartet performed with distinction on the international stage – striking gold at the women’s World Cup in Poland before finishing fourth in the World Championship final in Szeged.

Lisa, who was in Rotorua to pick up the Ian Ferguson Cup and the Team of the Year Award on behalf of the K4 team, said: “We do not compete to win such these accolades but it is nice to receive recognition. I see first-hand how much work the girls put in, so it is nice to see that the team has been recognised.”

Marathon Athlete of the Year was awarded to Auckland’s Andrew Mowlem, who swept to victory in the open K1 and K2 division at the NZ Marathon Championships in Gisborne and also claimed victory in the year’s first edition of the King and Queen of the Harbour.

In what was a memorable year for New Zealand’s leading surf ski paddlers, North Shore-based Teneale Hatton was awarded Ocean Surf Ski Athlete of the Year. The 29-year-old former sprint world champion enjoyed an outstanding season, winning the Canadian Downwind Championships and claiming a bronze medal at the ICF Ocean Racing World Championships in France.

The Carrington Cup for Junior Athlete of the Year was presented to Olivia Brett after she enjoyed a medal-laden campaign. The teenager of the Arawa Club claimed no less than seven gold medals at Blue Lake 2, snared five golds at the sprint nationals, and seven medals at the Asia Pacific Cup. Olivia also performed with pride at the Junior World Championships, claiming sixth in the B Final of the K1 200m.


Olivia said on receiving the Carrington Cup: “Winning awards is not why we paddle but It is nice to receive a bit of recognition after the year we’ve enjoyed.”

At the other end of the age spectrum, Garth Spencer was presented the Brett Leask Cup for Masters Athlete of the Year. The North Shore paddler enjoyed a successful year, winning the M45-54 title at the NZ Marathon Championships, second in the open division in April’s King and Queen of the Harbour and also secured the 40 to 49 division of the NZ paddler series.


“Masters Athlete of the Year is a pretty highly contested prize as there are many masters athletes competing today,” said Garth. “The sport has an inclusive strategy for young kids and what I enjoy most about the sport is being able to train with my sons as part of a vibrant club scene.”

Gavin Elmiger received the Canoe Racing NZ Coach of the Year for his commitment to promoting a “sport of life” ethos at the North Shore Club. Coach to the club development squad, Gavin provides daily paddling sessions and also places club members into squads of similar ability.


“Looking at this trophy you can see that there are some amazing coaches who have won this award, so it is a real honour for me to have my name alongside them,” said Gavin.

Recipient of the Dennis Rae Cup for Volunteer of the Year was Gary Waller of Eastern Bay. Jack-of-all-trades Gary is the heartbeat of the club as coach, gear steward, team manager, official and sports co-ordinator as is a worthy winner of the award.

Gary was delighted to receive the award and said: “You need to have volunteers to do things otherwise nothing gets done. I volunteer to support the kids.”

Official of the Year and winner of the Don Cooper Cup is the tireless Karen Simpson-Warren, who also serves as Sport Development Manager at Canoe Racing NZ. Showing great enthusiasm for recruiting and training new officials she also performed as Chief Judge at the Junior World Championships in Romania and has been selected as Chief Judge at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

“It is a huge honour because there are so many people that work so hard as officials,” added Karen. “It's nice to have positive acknowledgement of what we do. But really, my main motivation is to get more officials in the sport. I'm not downplaying the work, but together we make it a lot of fun!”

Hawkes Bay were awarded the Rod Gavin Cup for Club of the Year thanks to their innovative efforts to grow the sport in their local community. They have established new school partnerships, used their athletes to coach and mentor entry-level paddlers, developed a social media presence and plan to have club rooms in the future.

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Darren Brown chair of the Hawkes Bay club said: “It is nice to receive recognition for all the hard work that the committee, the coaches and all the paddlers have done in the last 12 months. It has been a break out year for us.”

Toasting Success

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