Lisa Carrington once again served notice of her world-class ability by leading another outstanding day for New Zealand paddlers at the ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Championships in Szeged, Hungary.
In her K1 200m semi-final, an event where she is unbeaten for seven years, the 30-year-old global kayak star produced a typically composed performance to clinch victory.
Repelling a strong early challenge from Portugal’s Teresa Portela, Carrington’s sheer class showed in the latter half of the sprint event.
Appearing perfectly poised and in total control, the Kiwi stopped the clock to win in 38.81 – 0.49 clear of Portela with Emma Jorgensen of Denmark, the 2018 World Championships silver medallist, back in third (39.56).
Spanish veteran Teresa Portela (note, the same name as the Portuguese paddler) took out for the first semi-final in 39.23 and Poland’s Olympic silver medallist Marta Walczykiewicz snared heat three in 39.14.
The eagerly awaited final takes place tonight at 9.33pm (NZ time), where Carrington will he hunting a seventh successive World K1 200m crown to add to her two Olympic titles.
Carrington had earlier put together a masterclass to cruise through her heat of the K1 500m. Seeking to reclaim the title she last won four years ago, she quickly established control of heat one and by the 250m mark held a massive 2.31secs lead.
She visible eased off some way short of the finish and crossed the line in 1:48.90 to claim a comfortable victory – 2.10secs clear of her nearest pursuer Esti van Tonder of South Africa.
The fastest of the qualifiers for the semi-finals, which take place on Sunday morning, was the 2017 world champion Volha Khudzenka of Belarus, who produced a classy display to clock 1:48.08 in heat three.
The defending champion Danuta Kozak had to settle for second in heat four. In what was a slight surprise, the Hungarian finished 0.56 adrift of Sweden’s Linnea Stensils (1:51.10) in heat four.
Kurtis Imrie (Mana) and Max Brown (Whanganui) took another significant step forward in their burgeoning careers by producing a scintillating performance to place second in heat four of the men’s K1 1000m.
The pair looked like seasoned veterans on their open World Championships debut, making an electric start and quickly taking control of the race and at halfway the duo held a lead of just under half-a-second.
The plucky Kiwis still held a slender advantage at 750m only to be overhauled by the vastly experienced 2017 World Championship gold medal winning Serbian crew of Milenko Zoric and Mirko Tomicevic in the final quarter.
However, it was some performance by the New Zealanders, who registered a time of 3:11.81 – to finish just 0.81 adrift of the Serbian duo. Imrie and Brown will now move on the semi-finals on Sunday morning full of confidence that they can make a real impact.
Brown said: “Today’s race went really well. We stuck to our plan and we really feel like the work we’ve been doing together with Fred (Loyer their coach) is starting to pay off.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow morning’s semi-final, Imrie added: “We’ll stick to our guns and race in a similar way to how we did today. We will tweak a few things, but we are looking forward to competing, having fun and doing our best for New Zealand and Fred.”
Quaid Thompson pieced together a second successive personal best performance in the men’s K1 1000m as he advanced to the C Final later today. The 21-year-old Poverty Bay kayaker made an aggressive start in the second semi-final in pursuit of a top three position, which would have booked a spot in the A Final.
At halfway Thompson – who was drawn in lane one – sat fourth – but slipped back to ninth – albeit with the consolation of posting a best time for the distance of 3:31.49 – 6.45secs adrift of the heat winner and reigning world champion Fernando Pimenta of Portugal.
Besides Carrington’s K1 200m final, the other Kiwi highlight on a busy day four schedule is the appearance of 2018 world silver medallist Scott Martlew in the KL2 200m final.
Day Four Kiwis in action
8.15pm – Scott Martlew – Men’s KL2 200m A Final
8.37pm – Quaid Thompson – Men’s K1 1000m C Final
9.33pm – Lisa Carrington – Women’s K1 200m A Final
10.56pm – Alicia Hoskin and Caitlin Ryan – Women’s K2 500m A Final
1.06am – Lisa Carrington – Women’s K1 500m – Semi-finals
1.37am – Kurtis Imrie and Max Brown – Men’s K1 1000m Semi-finals
Follow all the action on www.icfcanoe.com
See the Kiwi’s race schedule and results
Image: Of Lisa Carrington on her way to victory in her heat of the K1 500m. Credit: Bence Vekassy/ICF