Aimee Fisher became NZ’s latest kayaking World Champion overnight, winning gold in the K1 500m at the ICF Sprint World Championship in Copenhagen.
Fisher was part of a small Kiwi contingent in Denmark, accompanied by Quaid Thompson and Taris Harker. Thompson finished second in the B Final of the K1 1000m, and Harker came in 8th in the B Final of the K1 200m. The team travelled under their own steam as CRNZ did not send a team this year due to logistical challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic and the unusual circumstance of a World Champs being held in an Olympic year following the postponement of the Tokyo Games.
After qualifying fastest in the heat and progressing directly to the A Final, Fisher put together an impressive performance. She finished in a quick 1:48.08, beating Olympic silver medalist Tamara Csipes of Hungary into second by 0.92s. Danish home favourite, Emma Jorgensen, repeated her Olympic bronze performance for third.
Speaking to the ICF media crew, Fisher said “That was so special, so special for everyone back home.”
“It’s been tough. It’s definitely had its moments when I wanted to walk away, to give up because I didn’t think I could do it. But this is the icing on the cake to come here today, and show to myself that I can do this.
“It’s very liberating to have so much ownership over my sporting pursuits. There’s been a few times when there’s been tears, and I wanted to run away and leave the venue, but pressure is a privilege.”
For Taris Harker, racing the K1 200m event was his first outing at an Open World Champs, and his international kayaking race since the 2018 U23 World Championship. Harker took almost two years away from paddling recovering from a mysterious cardiac condition and rejoined the CRNZ men’s squad in early 2021. He came away pleased with his result and glad to have competed.
Quaid Thompson recovered from his heat and semifinal to race well in the B Final, finishing second behind accomplished Spainiard Roi Rodriguez.
Matt Warren, former CRNZ Board member and ICF official, was on hand to assist the three paddlers with some aspects of team management amongst his ICF race management duties. Matt has been away from home for a couple of months now – he was an ICF official at the Olympics, U23 World Champs and now Open World Champs.