Competing in just the third regatta of his career, Corbin Hart will take to the water tonight at the ICF Canoe-Kayak Sprint and Paracanoe World Cup in Szeged seeking to secure a New Zealand qualification spot at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
The 26-year-old, who only took up the sport of kayaking in July last year, will make his international debut later today at 8.30pm (NZ time) competing in the heats of the KL3 200m.
Should he secure a top six spot (or a next best fastest time) he will advance to the semi-finals from 10pm today. The A final takes place on Sunday at 02.30 (NZ time).
Corbin’s journey to this point is nothing short of remarkable. In December 2019 he lost his right leg in a civil roading accident but in the middle of last year the former ski paddler at the Red Beach Surf Lifesaving Club was convinced to give kayaking a go.
He has proved a quick learner. On his competitive debut at Blue Lake 1 last October he finished second in the Men’s Division 2 A Final of the K1 200, recording a fastest time of 42.20.
Two months later at Blue Lake 2, the paddler from Red Beach in the Whangaparaoa Peninsula clocked a slick time 39.69 in the heats of the men’s K1 200m.
Subsequent testing has offered encouraging signs that Corbin could make an impact internationally and he has been given full approval by Canoe Racing NZ to compete internationally in the final qualification event for the Paralympic Games.
So far six nations have banked the ten available Paralympic qualification spots in the men’s KL3 200m – Russia, Ukraine, Australia, Great Britain, Germany and Spain. To earn New Zealand a boat at the Tokyo Games, Corbin will be pursuing one of the four remaining qualification places.
A few days ago, Corbin was officially classified as a KL3 athlete in Hungary and is now all set to make his international debut, where in his heat he will face reigning World and Paralympic champion Serhii Yemelianov of Ukraine.
Corbin said: “I’m proud of how far I’ve come in such a short space of time. I just want to give it my all, and if I can do that I’ll be at peace with my performance.”