Six qualification quotas boost NZ’s Paddle to Paris

A golden 90minutes on Friday afternoon in Penrith gave Canoe Racing New Zealand a massive boost on its paddle to Paris, with 3 crews provisionally qualifying 6 more quota spots for the upcoming 2024 Olympic Games. This sets the stage for potentially a 10-strong New Zealand Canoe Racing Olympic team, the largest squad ever sent.

The mens K2 pair -Max Brown and Kurtis Imrie, the womens k2 duo Aimee Fisher and Danielle McKenzie, and a new mens C2 crew of James Munro and Kacey Ngataki were successful in beating the other Oceania nations in their respective 500m events, as required to qualify a kiwi boat for that event in Paris. These Oceania Championships is the final qualifying opportunity for New Zealand.

It is important to note that these qualifications must be approved by the New Zealand Olympic Committee and the International Canoe Federation, and that the qualification of a place in any event by an athlete or crew does not guarantee that the athlete/crew will be nominated or selected to compete in that event at Paris 2024.

There will be final trials for available seats in the coming weeks, with the Olympic squad announced at the end of March/April.

2020 Olympians Brown and Imrie kicked off the qualifying races for the kiwis, with a 2nd place finish behind Australia, but crucially beating the other Oceania nations to qualify a mens k2 500m boat. Australia had previously qualified their boat at the World Championships.

In an instagram post following the race Brown was quick to acknowledge and share the success with the wider NZ mens squad who were involved in getting them to this stage, but noted that tough trials awaited them for final Olympic selection.

Next up was the 2-person Canoe 500m race with Munro and Ngataki, a new crew racing in a new event. The men, unconventionally seated in the canoe and using waka paddles, took the win over Australia and Samoa to qualify a boat for the kiwis and add two more male quotas.

Alongside the 2 quotas from the K2 boat, this opens the door for New Zealand to potentially field a K4 (4 person Kayak) at the Olympics.

Finally, in the most anticipated event of the day for New Zealand, Aimee Fisher and Danielle McKenzie lined up for the WK2 500m qualifying race, with a win required and a strong challenge expected from the Australian crew.

Once underway, the result was never really in doubt with the Kiwis taking the win by nearly 6 seconds and securing 2 more female spots at the Paris Games.

This, in addition to the 4 spots already qualified, means NZ could have the maximum 6 female quota spots allowed per nation, a spectacular achievement given that it was only in 2008 that the first New Zealand female paddler Erin Taylor competed at the Olympics.

6 female athletes mean that New Zealand could field up to 5 boats at the Games- two K1, two K2 and a K4.

“We are incredibly pleased with the outcome today to get 3 out of the 3 qualification boats we were aiming for.” said Nathan Luce, CRNZ General Manager of Performance.

“The athletes all did the job they needed to do. We will acknowledge this step in the process, but ultimately our goal in medals in Paris so we still have a long way to go.”

Racing at the Oceania Championships continues today and tomorrow with 500m finals racing and 1000m events. Quaid Thompson will be racing in the Mens K1 1000m Olympic qualification race on Saturday evening NZT, and Kacey Ngataki is lining up in the mens C1 1000m. In the non-Olympic qualifying events, James Munro is racing in the K1 500m event.


2024 Oceania Canoe Sprint Day 2 schedule, kiwis in action and results-