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Monday, 12 October 2015
North Shore's Rebecca Cole on her way to victory in the K1 200m at canoe racing's Blue Lakes 1 regatta in Rotorua
Rebecca Cole not only came away with a fistful of open titles from the first canoe racing regatta of the season, she also came away with the knowledge her kayaking career is on the right track.
The 20-year-old Taranaki-raised paddler, now racing for North Shore, picked up wins in the open women's K1 200m and 500m and paired with Briar McLeely to win the K2 200m and 500m finals at the NZCT-sponsored Blue Lakes 1 in Rotorua.
Cole, McLeely and Poverty Bay's Kim Thompson had a great tussle across the open and under-23 age groups, defying the freezing morning conditions on Tikitapu (formerly Blue Lake) to bust out some hot times.
They showed the benefit of training with senior counterparts Jaimee Lovett, Aimee Fisher, Caitlin Ryan and Kayla Imrie, who recently qualified a K4 boat for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
"There's so much to aspire to, being a female kayaker in New Zealand at the moment," Cole said. "There's Lisa Carrington and now the K4 girls - our view is kind of 'if they can do it, why can't we give it a shot?'. It's been lots of fun with Kim and Briar in the open squad but definitely hard work with some pretty big gym sessions lately and we're just happy to get some racing in."
Carrington and the open K4 sat out the early-season regatta, allowing the next generation to assess their progress. Cole, McLeely and Thompson were part of the women's K4 that finished ninth at the under-23 world championship in Portugal in July and their ability to get the best out of each other is building depth towards the 2020 Olympics.
Today's K1 200m final highlighted their competitiveness, with Cole winning in 44.67secs from Thompson (44.77) and McLeely, just 0.03secs further back in 44.80.
Cole and McLeely only just held out Thompson and her Poverty Bay teammate Britney Ford in the K2 200m final as well, with the North Shore pair recording 40.02 to the Gisborne girls' 40.10.
Elsewhere, Hawke's Bay sprinter Scott Bicknell showed the benefits of missing August's world championships to concentrate on next year's Oceania Championships, blitzing his specialist K1 200m and also taking home the K1 1000m title.
He also combined with Craig Simpkins to take out the K2 200m title in 34.56, just clear of Andrew Roy (Bay of Plenty) and Hawke's Bay's William Wilkins.
North Shore's Karl McMurtrie also showed pleasing progress after his junior world championship experience, comfortably winning the under-18 men's K1 200m and coming within 0.03secs of beating Roy for the under-23 sprint crown as well.
The next major regatta is Blue Lakes 2 in early December, with the majority of the New Zealand high performance squad expected to attend.
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