Olympics: No. 4 still huge buzz, says Ferguson

By David Leggat

If you imagine preparing for a fourth Olympic Games is all a touch ho-hum for Steven Ferguson, think again.

The 31-year-old paddler is off for another tilt at Games glory in London this year in the K2 1000m discipline, alongside first-time Games athlete Darryl Fitzgerald.

For Ferguson, who contested the Sydney Olympics in 2000 as a swimmer before switching to the sport once dominated by his four-time Olympic champion father Ian, the buzz remains firmly intact.

"The excitement is there and the expectation of wanting to do well," he said yesterday.

Simply going because he has qualified is not the point. Being the best, striving for the podium, remains the incentive.

"The last four years has been tough. There's been a lot of things happening with Canoe Racing New Zealand (referring to the administrative and coaching turmoil which plagued the sport about 15 months ago) and sometimes it crosses your mind, 'shoot, is all this hard work worth it'?

"Then you dig your toes in, stick at it and before you know it you're getting another chance to achieve the goal you've wanted as a kid."

World Cup regattas in Poland and Germany are coming up this month and Ferguson indicated there's a fine line involved. You want to give rivals something to think about, but there's also an element of keeping some of the powder dry ahead of London.

"You want to scare everyone a little bit but we're not doing a full tapered preparation. It's a good opportunity to practice race plans, see how other people are going and see what we need to do to beat them."

The New Zealand team was confirmed yesterday, spearheaded by world K1 200m champion Lisa Carrington, and there are hopes of a sixth paddler making the startline in Eton in early August.

Teneale Hatton is off to Europe with the New Zealand squad next Tuesday to contest the World Cup regattas. She is ranked No 19 at present in the K1 500m and is a decent chance to squeeze into the Games team.

"She needs to do well against other world class athletes to prove she can meet the New Zealand Olympic criteria of top 16," CRNZ chief executive Paula Kearns said yesterday.

"She's pretty close, she's been training really hard, she's a talented young paddler and it would be fantastic if she makes it."

The paddlers head in different directions to prepare for London after the cup regattas.

The men, with Ian Ferguson coaching, head for Lake Como in Italy; the women, and coach Gordon Walker, are off to Munich.

Former world champion and Olympic silver medallist Ben Fouhy is already in London with coach Darrell Bonetti, a sports physiologist who has worked at the Australian Institute of Sport, preparing for the K1 1000m.

- Hamilton News

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