The New Zealand Junior and U23 Sprint Kayaking team have arrived in Szeged, the site of the 2022 World Championships, as final preparations are underway before competition begins on Wednesday 31st August.
Szeged is the spiritual home of Canoe Sprint throughout the world, and today having dashed to see the venue and get the lay of the land, the excitement is certainly starting to build. Purpose-built for kayaking and rowing, the Szeged Olimpiai Központ is ready to host the world’s best young athletes in the sport.
“The crew is ready” said Steve Vaughan, CRNZ Team Manager.
“The last couple of days has seen the team put in their final preparations. There has been some ‘hurt locker’ stuff, and a little downtime to recharge the batteries, to have the body and mind primed for the huge week ahead. Wednesday is when all the action begins.”
There are 14 Kiwi paddlers representing New Zealand at these World Championships, accompanied by coaches Craig Mustard, Emily Willock and Kayla Imrie.
“The team are looking and feeling great. They have adjusted well to a completely new environment, new foods, new opportunities.’ said Vaughan.
For many, this is their first international regatta, with no NZ teams travelling to events since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mustard is excited to see the team hit the water.
“The results are of course incredibly important, but this journey is simply a cog in an entire process in developing these young athletes.
“These athletes began their training with their clubs and coaches, right through to Nationals, selections and training camps.
“The process of becoming a New Zealand Junior / U23 representative involves so many vital contributions and the World Championships bring us to a pinnacle where each of our athletes can race the best in the world, learn and be inspired for the years ahead.”
Athletes have enjoyed eight days on the ground in Hungary, training at Dunavarsány Olympic Training Centre, an area just outside Budapest. Through the first few days, they shared the water and facilities with Olympic Champions, something truly inspiring for our young talent.
“This is the place where Hungary’s best paddlers come to train. Hungarians eat and breathe Kayaking, much like we treat rugby or netball in NZ,” said Vaughan.
As Team NZ settled in to their time in Hungary, the entire group had the opportunity to embrace the opportunity and culture further with a trip to the incredible city of Budapest.
The architecture and history stunned the group and each athlete made the most of absorbing the breathtaking sights and sounds of a city none of them have ever dreamed of.
The 2022 ICF Junior and U23 World Canoe Sprint World Championships run from 31 August – 4 September 2022 in Szeged, Hungary.
Racing will begin on Wednesday night and will be live-streamed on ICF’s YouTube channel, Planet Canoe.
Canoe Racing NZ will be providing regular updates and results on the website and social media throughout the event.
31 August – 4 September 2022
Damien DA SILVA