A six-strong New Zealand team led by Lisa Carrington take to the water on Monday to compete in the six-day Tokyo Olympic canoe sprint programme at the Sea Forest Waterway brim full of confidence after enjoying an excellent build up.
Carrington is taking on a gruelling four-event programme and to put her ambitious quest into context – no canoe sprint paddler has ever won more than three gold medals at a single Games or four medals of any colour at a single Games.
The Ohope-raised paddler struck gold on her Olympic debut at the London 2012 Games in her speciality K1 200m and mounted a successful defence of her title in Rio 2016.
A seven-time world K1 200m champion and unbeaten for more than a decade in that event, she will be heavily fancied to become only the second athlete in history after Swede Gert Fredriksson – who won a hat-trick of K1 1000m titles from 1948 to 1956 – to take three successive Olympic K1 titles in the same event.
Carrington, who became the first New Zealand woman to win more than one medal at a single Olympic Games after also snaring K1 500m bronze at Rio 2016 will line up in the longer distance event in Tokyo.
Over the past five years the 31-year-old paddler has developed into a much stronger K1 500m performer, and in 2019 grabbed an emphatic world title over the distance (note, Lisa also won the world K1 500m crown in 2015). Lisa will face formidable opposition in the shape of Hungarian Danuta Kozak, who has won the past two Olympic K1 500m titles.
Further bolstering the Kiwi challenge in the K1 500m is Caitlin Regal. The 29-year-old North Shore paddler boasts hugely impressive credentials – setting a world best time in Szeged, Hungary for the discipline in 2018.
Carrington and Regal will team up in the K2 500m to form a formidable combination. The regular training partners, who are based out of Lake Pupuke, form an impressive team and in 2017 paddled to world title success in this event.
Also entered for New Zealand in the K2 500m and Alicia Hoskin and Teneale Hatton.
Gisborne-raised Alicia, aged just 21, makes her Olympic debut having emerged from the junior and U23 ranks as a top quality prospect for the future.
Experienced Aucklander Hatton made her Olympic debut in London 2012 before spending a period away from canoe sprint to focus on ocean ski and other paddling disciplines. Only returning to canoe sprint last year, the 31-year-old has performed with huge credit to win selection for her second Olympic Games.
The quartet of Carrington, Regal, Hatton and Hoskin will then team up to compete in the K4 500m. New Zealand has a strong pedigree in the event – winning 2018 World Championships silver, finishing just 0.01 behind gold medallists Hungary.
The women’s group are skilfully coached by Halberg Coach of the Decade Gordon Walker and Nathan Luce.
Olympic debutants Max Brown and Kurtis Imrie will fly the flag New Zealand flag for the men in the K2 1000m having emerged in the past couple of years on the international stage.
In 2019 the pair reached the A Final at the ICF World Cup event in Poznan, Poland and later that year finished joint-sixth in the B Final at the World Championships.
Max, 26, hails from Whanganui and 25-year-old Kurtis – younger brother of Rio 2016 Olympian Kayla Imrie – was raised in Wellington.
The Cambridge-based duo are coached by three-time Olympic medallist Tim Brabants.
Monday August 2 (Day one of the Canoe Sprint program)
All times NZ
12.30pm – Women’s K2 200m Heats
2.08pm – Women’s K2 500m heats
3pm – Women’s K1 200m QF
4pm – Women’s K2 500m QF
Tuesday August 3 – Day two of competition
12.30pm – Women’s K1 200m SF
1.30pm – Women’s K2 500m SF
2.35pm – Women’s K1 200m A Final
3.39pm – Women’s K2 500m Finals
Wednesday August 4 – Day three of competition
1:40pm – Women’s K1 500m heats
2.20pm – Men’s K2 1000m heats
3:50pm – Women’s K1 500m Quarter-Finals
4.18pm – Men’s K2 1000m – Quarter-finals
Thursday August 5 – Day four of competition
12:58pm – Women’s K1 500m SF
1:30pm – Men’s K2 1000m SF
3:20pm – Women’s K1 500m Finals
4.18pm – Men’s K2 1000m Finals
Friday August 6 – Day five of competition
1:30pm – Women’s K4 500m heats
3pm – Women’s K4 500m QF
Saturday August 7 – Day six (final day) of competition
1.07pm – Women’s K4 500m SF
3.12pm – Women’s K4 500m Finals