On a momentous night at the glittering Halberg Award Decade Champions ceremony in Auckland last night, the sport of canoe sprint toasted two awards as Lisa Carrington took out the Sportswoman of the Decade award and Gordon Walker was named Coach of the Decade.
The honour of winning both prestigious awards bears testament to the outstanding gifts, incredible work ethic and professionalism of both Lisa and Gordon, who continue to leave an outstanding legacy to our sport.
Lisa boasts an unparalleled record. In 2012 she won K1 200m gold at the London Olympics and four years later at the Rio Games she became the first New Zealand woman to win two medals at a single Olympics by retaining her K1 200m title and winning K1 500m bronze.
The kayak superstar has also racked up a remarkable ten world titles between 2011 and 2019 and 20 world medals in total.
Up against shot put legend Dame Valerie Adams and golf ace Lydia Ko for the Sportswoman of the Decade prize she said: “I would like to thank my amazing support team, my team-mates and my coach Gordy – it is a privilege to have a coach like him. I’d also like to thank my partner, Bucky, and so many people for supporting me.
“I look back to when I first sat in this room nine years ago, to think that the 23-year-old Lisa back then would know what was ahead of her is pretty amazing.
“It is really special for a small sport like canoeing to be recognised for all our hard work.”
Gordon Walker was up against coaching legends such as Steve Hansen and Noeline Taurua to take home the Coach of the Decade gong.
Gordon, who serves as Technical Director with CRNZ, has successfully guided Lisa to all of her international success and also coached four boats to gold at the 2017 World Canoe Sprint Championships. He also guided the New Zealand team to five medals at the 2018 World Championships.
“I’d like to thank a number of significant people, he said after winning the prize. “Firstly, I’ve been extremely fortunate to coach the athletes I have, including Lisa – one of New Zealand’s greatest ever athletes. I’d like to acknowledge some of the support staff over the years such as David Galbraith, Greg Pain and David Slyfield. Plus, the coaching team I work with, in particular Nathan (Luce), Jasper Bats and Paul (McAlpine). I’d finally like to thank my family and my wife, Viv. The family have made an immense amount of sacrifices.”
Tom Ashley, CRNZ’s CEO said “We are so proud of Lisa and Gordon and delighted that their achievements, dedication and excellence have been honoured in this way. We have been inspired by so many Kiwi athletes’ and coaches’ efforts in a number of sports over the last decade, so to be recognised as leaders in that company is special.”
“Lisa has proven to be not just a once-in-a-lifetime talent, but also a leader who has strived to build a legacy for our sport. Gordon has worked tirelessly, mostly behind the scenes, always with the wellbeing and performance of his athletes at heart. That this recognition comes after the year that was 2020 is particularly gratifying, and testament to the resilience and integrity with which Gordon has gone about his work.”
***We will bring you more on the success story of Lisa and Gordon in the coming weeks.