Lisa set to light up Nationals



The first competitive appearance this season of reigning double world champion Lisa Carrington will form the centrepiece of the 2020 NZCT New Zealand Canoe Sprint Championships at Lake Karapiro from Friday Feb 14 to Sunday Feb 16.


The pinnacle event of the domestic season rarely disappoints and with sweltering conditions of up to 29c predicted across the three-day event, expect the regatta to be red-hot both on and off the water.


Yet it will be the presence of the double Olympic champion, as she steps up her preparations for a 2020 campaign, climaxed by the Tokyo Olympic Games, which will perhaps garner the most attention.


Carrington (Eastern Bay) will seek to defend both her K1 200m and K1 500m national titles in Cambridge and opens her account in the open women’s K1 200m heats on Friday with the final to follow later that morning.


Such is the current strength in depth of women’s elite racing in New Zealand, Carrington will not have an easy road to both titles as her training partners and fellow elite women’s national squad members; Caitlin Ryan (North Shore), Aimee Fisher (Hawkes Bay) and Kayla Imrie (Mana) will also be seeking to make an statement ahead of selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.


Twelve months ago, Carrington finished one place clear of Fisher followed by Ryan in a top-quality K1 200m battle. In the K1 500m, Carrington prevailed from Ryan and expect both races to serve up some world-class paddling.


The open men’s events will also be keenly contested with defending champion Ashton Reiser hoping to mount a successful defence of his K1 200m crown. Last year, the North Shore paddler underwent surgery after a sustained bout of compartment syndrome in his forearms but the 21-year-old is slowly returning to form.


Among his key rivals will be his fellow New Zealand men’s kayak squad paddlers, Ben Duffy (Arawa), Zach Ferkins (Poverty Bay) and Hamish Legarth (Karapiro).


Taris Harker (Karapiro), who made a successful return to the sport at Blue Lake 2 in December after a period on the sidelines following unspecified heart issues, also competes and could be a factor.


The open men’s K1 1000m is always one of the blue riband races of any regatta and the battle for supremacy over the distance will provide one of the highlights at the 2020 National Championships.


The NZ men’s squad quartet of Ashton Reiser Zach Ferkins Ben Duffy and Hamish Legarth will expect to be a prominent. Meanwhile, another threat could be Arawa veteran Fred Teear, who impressed at Blue Lake 2 to finish fourth in a top-quality international field. Another interesting entrant is 40-year-old Ben Fouhy, the 2004 Olympic silver medallist and 2003 World champion for the distance.


The men’s K1 500m will also feature Reiser, Ferkins, Duffy, Legarth and Teear in what appears another wide open event.


The three-day event will features races in novice, tyro, U14, U16, U18, Open and Masters divisions at distances of 200m, 500m, 1000m and 5km.


Besides the action at Lake Karapiro, a small group of Kiwi athletes will be chasing quota spots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Oceania Canoe Sprint Championships held in Penrith, Sydney from Feb 14-16.


Leading the Kiwi challenge in Australia will be Max Brown and Kurtis Imrie, who enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2019 reaching the A Final in the K2 1000m at the World Cup in Poznan and the duo will be back in action in Sydney pursuing a K2 1000m berth for New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympics.


Australia qualified a boat in this event via last year’s World Championships, so providing the Kiwi duo finish ahead of the best of the rest in Oceania they will have secured an Olympic quota spot. Note, however, that should the pair qualify a boat this is no guarantee that Max or Kurtis will be selected for Tokyo as a decision on the precise make-up on the boat will be made following trials in the next few weeks.


Quaid Thompson (Poverty Bay), the 2019 national K1 1000m champion and World Championship representative, is also in action in his speciality event in Sydney, and he will be seeking to secure one of two Oceania Olympic quota places in this event.


The Olympic Qualification System only allows each nation to qualify a maximum of one men’s boat at the Oceania Qualifier. This means that if both the K2 1000 and K1 1000 secure places, CRNZ will have to return one spot.


Alicia Hoskin and Danielle Watson are also in pursuit of two extra places for New Zealand in the women’s Olympic team as they line up in the K2 500m in Sydney. 


New Zealand have already banked four Olympic spots in the K1 200m, K1 500m and K4 500m following the combined efforts of Carrington, Ryan, Imrie and Fisher, at the 2019 World Championships.


Alicia and Danielle will hope victory in Penrith will ensure up to six Kiwi female paddlers can be selected for New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympic Games, although no specific athletes will be confirmed for the team until after the final selection.


All continental Olympic quota races will take place during Friday’s heats at the Oceania Canoe Sprint Championships.


Canoe Racing NZ coach Tim Brabants, who will be attending the Oceania Canoe Sprint Championships, said:  “We are hoping the Oceania Championships can provide some additional Olympic qualification options which will enable the New Zealand team to be as big as possible in Tokyo.


“Our aim is to qualify the maximum number of quota boats, which in the case of the men would be two kayak spots.”


Up to the minute draw and results of the 2020 NZCT New Zealand Canoe Sprint Championships can be found via our App (find Canoe NZ in the Play Store – free to download). Or check the Live Results Website.