Kayaking: Carrington cruises to sprint title

By Greg Taipari

Olympic gold medallist Lisa Carrington has shown no signs of ring rust in her first hit-out in a K1 since picking up her medal at the London Olympics.

The 23-year-old has been on a six month sabbatical from the sport but hasn't been completely idle taking part in her original passion surf lifesaving.

But Carrington was back in action on Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake) at the weekend for the New Zealand Canoe Sprint Championships which are also doubling as the International Canoe Federation Oceania sprint champs.

Carrington was at her gold medal winning best in both the women's K1 500 and 200m events.

Carrington showed her class in the finals of the women's 500m race on Saturday, holding off an early challenge from Australian Hannah Davis.

However, Carrington moved into a strong position at the front of the field and continued through to win the race by a margin of 1.1s ahead of the Australian. New Zealand's Teneale Hatton produced a strong performance to finish third ahead of another Australian Jo Bridgen-Jones.

The Olympian repeated the performance yesterday in her favoured event the women's K1 200m event. Powering away to win in a time of 39.81s almost 2s ahead of Australians Jo Bridgo-Jones (41.41s) and Hannah Davis (41.65s).

Racing for her club. The next Kiwi paddler home was Rachel Dodwell (42.19s) in fourth and Jamie Lovett (43.23s) in fifth.

Racing for her club Eastern Bay Canoe Racing, Carrington said she was happy to be back out on the water.

"I was a little bit sore for the first race but it's good to be back on home soil so to speak. You couldn't go anywhere else in the world and it would be like this."

Carrington said being back amongst her clubmates was always special.

"It's really cool to have young kids coming through and it's quite a bit of a family community. So it's cool to be with them."

Family friend Tony Lovett, who is also the club captain of the Whakatane Surf Lifesaving Club and a founding member of the Eastern Bay Canoe Racing Club said it was always special having Carrington back paddling.

"That young lady, she can just walk into our [team] tent, to us she is just Lisa. We know what she has achieved and we're proud of her. But she just walks in puts her Olympic boat next to the team, gets changed in the tent. She's just part of the club.

"All the kids are really proud and she is part of the reason of the success of our club to be honest. Without Lisa we probably wouldn't have achieved what he have done in [just] two years."

Lovett said Carrington had always showed loyalty to her home town of Ohope and to the club.

"The club is whanau orientated and [Lisa] is Maori, she understands what that whanau bond is for her. For her [the club] is just home and she is always going to be there.

"How many get to train with an Olympic champion from 10-years-old to 50-year-olds."

As well as Carrington the event saw a number of other Olympians taking part. Olympian Ben Fouhy was second in the K1 100m behind Australians Kenny Wallace the bronze medallist in Beijing and fifth in the K2 at London. Wallace dominated the event beating Fouhy by 3.5s with fellow Australian Lachlan Tame third.

In the men's K1 500m Australia took out the two top spots with Olympian Kenny Wallace first and Lachlan Tame second. The first Kiwi home was Marty McDowell followed by Fouhy.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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