Ferguson 'fired up' for national clash

By Greg Taipari

Like father, like son.
Steven Ferguson wants to be the best, just like his dad, quadruple Olympic champion Ian Ferguson.
In the late 80s and early 90s, his father was New Zealand's most successful athlete. He won four Olympic gold medals and a silver, plus five World Championship medals for kayaking.
Now the younger Ferguson wants to be the best he can in canoeing, starting today at the three-day New Zealand canoe sprint championships being held on Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake).
This year's championship will be held in conjunction with the Oceania sprint championship, attracting paddlers from Samoa, Tahiti, the Cook Islands and Australia.
Ferguson has just returned from the Australian Grand Prix 2 regatta, where he said he hadn't performed to his potential. He finished third in the A final of the K1 200m and 500m and second in the A final of the MK2 1000m and 500m with his paddling partner Darryl Fitzgerald.
The 30-year-old said he was fired up for this regatta.
"For me personally, I always take [the championships] seriously. You always want to be the best in your country. I'm geared up and ready to go."
Ferguson will compete today in the MK2 200m with Fitzgerald, who he holds in high regard.
"It's quite exciting to have Darryl as my partner. He's at the top of his game - he's a dedicated and a strong paddler. You could not ask for anything more."
Ferguson will also compete in the K1 1000m tomorrow and the K1 200m on Sunday.
Ferguson has had an ideal build-up to the champs and said he was looking forward to getting back on Lake Tikitapu.
"The weather [leading up to the regatta] has been sound and I've had some good-quality sessions.

So I'm definitely looking forward to this regatta.
"As for the lake itself, it's a great clean, clear, crystal-blue lake. It's nice to paddle on and it has a pretty good course as well."
The nationals attract New Zealand's top paddlers across all age groups.
Female athletes to watch will be Lisa Carrington and Teneale Hatton, fresh off a first and second placing respectively in the Open K1 500s. The pair are always top-performers in the women's K2 races.
The young up-and-comer is Kayla Imrie, who returned with a gold and two silvers in the U23 age group.
Aimee Fisher and Karina Radley were also stand-outs in the women's U18 division and are looking promising for this year's nationals.
The U23 men have also shown they have what it takes and will be battling it out on Tikitapu, after upsetting the Australians by taking out the top-five spots in the U23 K1 1000m.
The regatta starts today at 2pm with the U23 MK1 1000m heats.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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