Aimee Fisher and Lisa Carrington have captured the hearts and minds of the nation in incredible displays of sporting prowess and sportsmanship over the previous 5 days.
Not in recent history has a domestic kayaking race attracted such attention, as this week’s best of 3 race series, the purpose of which was to select the athlete to represent Aotearoa at the 2022 Sprint World Championship in the Women’s K1 500m event. Only one spot is available per nation.
Reigning World Champion Fisher took a memorable victory over Carrington in the first race on Saturday and claimed the NZ National title. She won by just 0.08 seconds over the 5-time Olympic gold medalist.
Carrington responded early on Sunday morning to take the 2nd race, although it was just as tight with 0.11 seconds separating the two.
It came down to a deciding race, held on Thursday in blustery conditions at Lake Karapiro, in front of one of the largest crowds Canoe Racing has seen. Lisa lead the way and finished 0.61seconds or half a boat length ahead, in a time of 1.48.86, to secure her spot at the World Championships in Canada.
This result means Aimee will not be able to defend her title.
Both women were effusive in their praise of the other and acknowledged they pushed each other to their very best performances.
“She was spectacular” Aimee told awaiting media following the race. “It is such a privilege to be part of a contest this intense. I can’t even describe how it felt before the race…I think we bring out the best in each other out there. It’s an epic battle and that will be some of the racing of the decade.”
Lisa said: “Aimee is an awesome competitor and that race means a lot to both of us. We both had to bring our A game, definitely a really tough race.”
With Lisa Carrington having confirmed her commitment through to the next Olympics, and two K1 spots available at Paris 2024, there are sure to be plenty more epic battles between the two fastest women in the world.