"Flatwater Racing" as it was called, was first introduced to the Olympic programme at Paris in 1924  as a demonstration sport. 
It was officially welcomed into the Olympics as a full medal sport at Berlin in 1936 with both canoe and kayak events. 
Canoe Sprint has been at every Olympics since then, although there have been changes to the race program. 
Women began competing in kayaks only at London in 1948. 

Paracanoe debuted  at the Paralympics at Rio 2016, with Scott Martlew being the first kayaker to represent NZ at the Paralympics.  Only kayaks were contested at Rio 2016. Va'a (also known as waka ama or outrigger canoe) was added as a discipline in 2020.

New Zealand's proud Canoe Sprint Olympic history began at Munich in 1972, and has since become one of the country's best performing sports, with a total of 14 medals. At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Dame Lisa Carrington surpassed fellow kayaker Ian Ferguson as the most decorated New Zealand Olympian, when she won her 6th Olympic medal (5 gold, 1 bronze).

Munich 1972
Donald Cooper, Thomas Dooney

Don Cooper and Tom Dooney became the sport’s first Olympians, racing in the men’s K2 1000m, with Don also racing in the K1 1000m event, where he advanced to the semifinals.

Montreal 1976
Donald Cooper, Ian Ferguson, Rodney Gavin, John Leonard

Ian Ferguson made his Olympic debut in the MK1 500m in 1976, the first of five Olympics that he would go on to attend. Don Cooper progressed to the semis in K1 1000m, and Rod Gavin and John Leonard paired up for K2 500m and K2 1000m.


Moscow 1980
Ian Ferguson, Alan Thompson, Geoffrey Walker

Three canoers made up the four New Zealand athletes who defied the western boycott and competed as independents at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.  Ferguson made the  K1 500 and K1 1000 finals where he finished 7th and 8th respectively. Thompson and Walker also progressed to K2 1000m finals, finishing 8th. 

Los Angeles 1984 
Grant Bramwell, Ian Ferguson, Robert Jenkinson, Paul MacDonald, Edwin Richards,  Alan Thompson

Medals: 4x Gold 

Ian Ferguson, Paul MacDonald, Alan Thompson and Grant Bramwell won four gold medals between them in the K1 500, K1 1000, K2 500 and K4 1000 – the only New Zealand sport ever to achieve such an accomplishment at a single Games and topping the Canoe Sprint medal table.  Ferguson was the first Kiwi to win two golds on a single day and three golds in a single Olympics. 

Watch: Ian Ferguson wins Gold in Los Angeles 1984

Seoul 1988
Brent Clode, Grant Bramwell, Ian Ferguson, John MacDonald, Paul MacDonald, Stephen Richards, Alan Thompson

Medals: 1x Gold, 1x Silver, 1x Bronze

Ferguson and Paul MacDonald retained their K2 500 olympic title, as well as winning a silver in the K2 1000. Paul MacDonald also won a bronze medal in the K1 500m, securing his place in the record books as a 5-time Olympic medalist.
Ferguson was honoured as Flag Bearer of the New Zealand Olympic Team at the Opening Ceremony.

Watch: Ian Ferguson and Paul MacDonald win K2 500 Gold, Seoul 1988

Barcelona 1992
Richard Boyle,  Ian Ferguson, John MacDonald, Paul MacDonald,  Finn O’Connor, Stephen Richards, Mark Scheib

Ian Ferguson and Paul MacDonald proved age was no barrier as they advanced into the K2 1000m finals, finishing 8th.  John MacDonald made the semi finals in both the K1 500m and 1000m while the  K4 (Boyle, O’Connor, Richards & Scheib) made the 1000m semi finals.

Ian Ferguson won 3 gold medals in 1984
The Dream Team : Alan Thompson, Grant Bramwell, Ian Ferguson and Paul MacDonald
Paul MacDonald and Ian Ferguson, with coach Mark Sutherland 1988

Athens 2004
Steven Ferguson, Ben Fouhy

Medals: 1x Silver

In 2004 Ben Fouhy became New Zealand’s 5th Olympic medal winner when he won a silver medal in the K1 1000m at the Athens Games. Fouhy and Steven Ferguson, son of kayaking great Ian, paired up in the K2 1000m and finished 8th in the final.

Watch: Ben Fouhy wins K1 1000 Silver in Athens 2004

Ben Fouhy 2004

Beijing 2008
Steven Ferguson, Ben Fouhy, Erin Taylor, Mike Walker

In 2008, Erin Taylor became the first female flatwater kayaker from New Zealand to compete at the Olympic Games. She progressed to the semis in the K1 500m.
Fouhy finished in 4th place in the K1 1000m finals, while Ferguson and Mike Walker were 5th in the K2 1000m final.

London 2012
Lisa Carrington, Steven Ferguson, Darryl Fitzgerald, Ben Fouhy, Teneale Hatton, Erin Taylor

Medals: 1x Gold

At her debut Olympics, Lisa Carrington won the women’s K1 200m final, bringing home the coveted gold medal. Carrington and Taylor were 7th in the K2 500m event, and Teneale Hatton finished 15th in the K1 500m.
In the men’s racing, Darryl Fitzgerald and Steven Ferguson were 7th in their K2 1000m final. and Ben Fouhy was 14th in the K1 1000m in his 3rd and final Olympic games.

Watch: Lisa Carrington win Gold in K1 200m, London 2012

Rio 2016
Lisa Carrington, Aimee Fisher, Kayla Imrie, Jaimee Lovett, Scott Martlew (Paralympian), Marty McDowell, Caitlin Ryan

Medals: 1x Gold, 1x Bronze

In Rio, Lisa Carrington made history by becoming the first NZ woman to win multiple medals in the same Olympic Games. She won gold in the K1 200m and then bronze in the K1 500m. A NZ women’s K4 competed at the Olympic Games for the first time, achieving 5th place in the 500m event.

Canoe sprint was introduced to the Paralympic Games programme in Rio, with Scott Martlew representing NZ in the KL3 200m. He placed 8th in the final.

Tokyo 2020 (2021)
Max Brown, Lisa Carrington, Corbin Hart (Paralympian), Teneale Hatton, Alicia Hoskin, Kurtis Imrie, Scott Martlew (Paralympian), Caitlin Regal,

Medals: 3x Gold

The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo were delayed due to the Covid 19 Pandemic, being held a year later in August 2021 but this did not deter the kiwi kayakers. Lisa Carrington achieved the incredible K1 200m and K1 500m double, winning her 3rd and 4th gold medals, including her 3rd consecutive in the K1 200m. Lisa paired up with Caitlin Regal (nee Ryan) in the K2 500m and together they claimed gold  in a world-best time. This 3rd gold medal of the games made Lisa Carrington the most successful NZ Olympian of all time (6 medals- 5 gold and 1 bronze). Lisa and Caitlin teamed up with Alicia Hoskin and Teneale Hatton in the K4 500m and finished in 4th place.
A standout performance of the games was the mens K2 pair, Kurtis Imrie and Max Brown, who powered to a stunning 5th place in the final, well exceeding expectations.

In the 2020 Paralympics, Scott Martlew was 4th in the KL2 200m final, before finishing 8th in the VL3 200m final. Corbin Hart was 13th in the KL3 200m at his first games. 

Paris 2024 
NZ has confirmed its largest team ever for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Follow along and support our NZ team as they Paddle to Paris! 


Lisa Carrington became NZ 6th canoe sprint medalist in 2012
NZ Womens K4 debut in Rio 2016
Lisa Carrington Rio 2016
Golden Girls: Lisa Carrington & Caitin Regal


Donald Cooper 1972                                

Thomas Dooney 1972

Ian Ferguson 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992; 4 gold, 1 silver

Rodney Gavin 1976

John Leonard 1976

Alan Thompson 1980, 1984, 1988; 2 gold

Geoffrey Walker 1980

Grant Bramwell 1984, 1988; 1 gold

Robert Jenkinson 1984

Paul MacDonald 1984, 1988, 1992; 3 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze

Edwin Richards 1984

Brent Clode 1988

John MacDonald 1988, 1992

Stephen Richards 1988, 1992

Richard Boyle 1992

Finn O’Connor 1992

Mark Scheib 1992

Steven Ferguson 2004, 2008, 2012

Ben Fouhy 2004, 2008, 2012; 1 silver

Mike Walker 2008

Erin Taylor 2008, 2012

Lisa Carrington 2012, 2016, 2020; 5 gold, 1 bronze

Teneale Hatton 2012, 2020

Darryl Fitzgerald 2012

Marty McDowell 2016

Jaimee Lovett 2016 

Kayla Imrie 2016

Caitlin Ryan 2016, 2020; 1 gold

Aimee Fisher 2016

Scott Martlew 2016, 2020 (Paralympian)

Alicia Hoskin 2020 

Kurtis Imrie 2020

Max Brown 2020

Corbin Hart 2020 (Paralympian)



In 1985 Ian Ferguson was made a Member Of The British Empire in the New Year Honours for his services and achievements in canoeing. Paul MacDonald has also been awarded an MBE.

In 2005 Ben Fouhy was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit

In 2013 Lisa Carrington was awarded a New Years Honour and was appointed to the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to kayaking. In the 2022 New Year Honours, Carrington was promoted to Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.


Ian Ferguson – 2 gold, 1 silver

Alan Thompson – 1 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze

Geoffrey Walker

Grant Bramwell

Paul MacDonald – 3 gold, 3 silver

Brent Clode

John MacDonald

Stephen Richards

Steven Ferguson

Ben Fouhy-  1 gold

Peter Duncan

Gavin Elmiger

Katie Pocock

Mike Walker

Leigh Barker

Paul Green

Maui Kjeldsen

Troy Burbidge

Scott Bicknell

Lisa Carrington – 15 gold, 5 silver, 2 bronze

Erin Taylor

Caitlin Regal (nee Ryan)-  1 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze

Aimee Fisher – 1 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze

Kayla Imrie- 2 silver, 1 bronze 

Scott Martlew- 1 silver, 2 bronze

Jaimee Lovett

Alicia Hoskin -1 gold

Tara Vaughan -1 gold

Olivia Brett -1 gold

Danielle McKenzie

Corbin Hart

Peter Cowan – 1 silver


Halberg Awards
In 1984 Ian Ferguson was honoured as the Halberg Award recipient. In 2003 Ben Fouhy was New Zealand Sports Man of the Year and at the 2004 Halbergs Ian Ferguson received the SPARC Leadership award.

In 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2023 Lisa Carrington won the Sportswoman of the Year and in 2016, 2021 and 2023 she also won the Supreme Award. Coach Gordon Walker won Coach of the year for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021 and 2023.

In 2020, Lisa Carrington won Sportswoman of the Decade and Gordon Walker was awarded Coach of the Decade.

New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame
In 2003 Ian Ferguson, Paul MacDonald and Alan Thompson were inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame

Lonsdale Cup
In 1979 and 1984 Ian Ferguson was awarded the New Zealand Olympic Committee’s Lonsdale Cup. In 1985 he and Paul MacDonald received the award. Paul MacDonald again received the award in 1987. In 2016 Lisa Carrington was the first female kayaker to receive this award, and she has subsequently received it in 2017, 2021 and 2023.

IOC Annual Trophy
In 1996 Ian Ferguson was awarded the IOC’s Centennial Olympic Games Trophy.