The New Zealand Kayaking team enjoyed another solid day in Tokyo.
The women’s K4 500m crew produced an assured performance in their heat on Friday, grabbing second place to ensure automatic progression to the semi-final.
In their first outing together at the Sea Forest Waterway, the group of Lisa Carrington, Alicia Hoskin, Caitlin Regal and Teneale Hatton were comfortable and composed, crossing the line just behind the powerful Hungarian crew and well ahead of the rest of the field.
The result means the New Zealand team remains on track in the Japanese capital.
Carrington has already carved her name in folklore, with a staggering three gold medals, while Caitlin Regal became the latest Kiwi Olympic champion.
New Zealand are now working towards one more big effort in the bigger boat, arguably the most competitive Olympic kayaking event.The K4 500m semi finals are scheduled for 1.07 and 1:14pm (NZT) on Saturday, with the top four in each semi-final progressing to the final at 3:19pm (NZT).
It was another strong effort on Friday, particularly from Carrington and Regal. The 32-year-old Carrington already had a staggering nine races behind her at these championships, while Regal was backing up after six.
“This morning was pretty daunting waking up but I have so much faith in these girls,” Carrington told Sky Television. “I can draw on their strength. I trust them so much. The team has been so amazing and it’s so easy to just get out there.”
Regal was similarly thrilled to get the band back together.
“It’s pretty cool to finally be able to get into that big boat,” said Regal. “We’ve all been in different events but we’ve stayed tight as a team.”
New Zealand had claimed K4 500m silver at the 2018 world championships, but Friday’s race was the first major outing for this particular quartet.
“With this crew…we haven’t had an international race before, so we were going into the unknown a little bit,” explained Carrington. “It was just good to get that start and have a good rhythm throughout the race. I’m proud of these girls.”
The 31-year-old Hatton said the remarkable deeds of her teammates across the week had offered extra inspiration.
“Seeing these girls out there crushing it in K1 and K2 gives you confidence when you know you are jumping in the boat with them,” said Hatton.
New Zealand was drawn in a tough heat, with the gold (Hungary) and silver (Belarus) medallists from the last world championships in 2019.
But they showed no fear, sticking to the race plan, as they made a customary strong start, the quickest to react out of the buckets.
K4 boats are easy to unsettle, but the Kiwis showed good rhythm, with Carrington and Hoskin at the front and Regal and Hatton in the engine room.
They were first at 250m mark in 46.06 – 0.68 seconds ahead of defending Olympic champions Hungary, with Belarus 1.04 seconds behind.
The Belarussians, who had claimed bronze in Rio, tried to lift the tempo but couldn’t make any inroads on the Kiwis, who maintained their pace well. Hungary’s all-star crew – featuring Danuta Kozak and Tamara Csipes – came to the fore in the final 150m – but New Zealand were comfortable in second, to finish in 1:33.959, the third fastest time of the day. They finished 0.624 seconds behind the Hungarians, who recorded 1:33.335.
2019 world championship bronze medallists Poland won heat two in 1:33.468, followed by Germany (1:34.681).