A third gold medal wrapped up New Zealand’s campaign at the 2023 ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Championships overnight, as Dame Lisa Carrington won the women’s K1 200m final in convincing, Carrington fashion.
Column inches have and will continue to be written about Carrington and her kayaking exploits – it was her 15th world championship title and her 22nd world championship medal, the fourth-time she has achieved the 200m and 500m double.
However this regatta was something extra special for Carrington as she led her K4 women’s team to victory in the 500m event, the first time any New Zealand K4 crew has won a world championship.
When asked her favourite win of the week Lisa replied, “Every race is pretty cool and I think I just keep coming back to our K4 on Friday. That was wicked.”
“It’s been an awesome week being out on the water and really cool to finish the weekend with the 200. The K1 500 yesterday was awesome, and today was so good to get out there and go as hard as I can. It was fun.”
In the K1 200m final Lisa Carrington shot out of the gates, putting almost half a boat length on her rivals in only a few strokes. Unbelievably, Carrington further extended the lead and there was daylight between her boat and second place. Winning by over one second ahead in a time of 38.982, Australia’s Yale Steinepreis claimed silver and Poland’s Dominika Putto third.
With 4 women’s Olympic berths now locked in for Paris 2024, no one would bet against Carrington adding to her record Olympic medal haul next August, but she is not one to rest on her laurels.
“We’ve still got one more year and hopefully can keep building on what we’ve done this week, hopefully we keep progressing.” said Carrington.
Reflecting on a hugely successful World Championships, Canoe Racing NZ General Manager of Performance Nathan Luce says “It’s hard to describe the emotion, and reaction when you look back at winning two Olympic class world titles, and three overall.”
“We are so proud of the team, all of their results and qualifying four spots for Paris next year. We knew we needed to do that [qualify a K4 boat] to get ahead with Paris prep and with the women’s team we’ve done that.”
“Winning the K4 was a massive accomplishment not only for the programme but for the sport. It was the first time it’s ever been won, men’s or women’s, by a non-european country. To be the first is humongous, we are pretty fortunate to have that result. Our athletes were amazing.”
Nathan was quick to acknowledge it is easy to become complacent to what Lisa is achieving on the water, that people have almost come to expect it.
“We can take Lisa for granted. What she did in individual results was amazing. We need to recognise that what she’s achieving is unheard of in any sport in any discipline,” explains Luce.
The fifth and final day of the championships saw three other kiwi paddlers racing in A finals, showcasing the depth in the New Zealand squad.
Aimee Fisher and Danielle McKenzie were 8th in their K2 500m final, an impressive and promising result in their first international outing together, mere weeks after teaming up.
Whilst they missed out on a top 6 Olympic qualifying place, the women’s K2 will have another opportunity in March at the Oceania Championships to earn their place in Paris.
Peter Cowan in the Va’a also showed his potential to be at the pointy end of the field, finishing 9th in his VL3 200m paracanoe event in one of the tightest finals of the competition.
Cowan will be looking to join Scott Martlew at the Paralympics through the World Cup qualification regatta next year.
The regatta concluded with the 5000m races, Quaid Thompson from Gisborne finishing in an impressive 7th place in the men’s K1 class. Danielle McKenzie was 13th in her first canoe sprint 5000m race.
After a hard week of competition, there will be little rest for the team with the majority on a plane straight to Paris to race at the Olympic test event starting Wednesday. After which they will come home to reflect and plan for the rest of their Paddle to Paris path.
***For the Full event results