World champion Lisa Carrington met her match at the canoe sprint world cup in Germany on Sunday night, but thinks the competition can help her quest for Olympic gold.
Carrington was edged for gold in the final of the K1 200m by three-time Olympic champion Natasa Douchev-Janics, with the Hungarian prevailing in the neck and neck battle by just 0.096 seconds.
Douchev-Janics has won a phenomenal 18 gold medals at canoe world championships during a 10-year career at the top of the sport, including the K1 200 in 2010.
She sat out last year's event in her home country - the same regatta where Carrington burst onto the scene by taking gold in the shortest discipline.
That result saw Carrington tipped as an early Olympic favourite but, if she is to fulfil that prediction, the Kiwi will have to find a way to go quicker than Douchev-Janics.
Carrington will not shirk from the challenge, though, and she saw the increased competition as a good thing two months out from the London Games.
"It's awesome to be able to push myself further and have someone to try and beat - it's really good," she said. "She's been around a bit longer than me and she's done some pretty amazing things.
"It's going to be awesome to have that battle in London."
Carrington found plenty of positives to take from the weekend, considering it was her first time this season competing in her favoured discipline and, following last weekend's world cup in Poland, only her second hit out in Europe.
"It was probably one of my best 200 metre performances," she said. "I'm sure I can work on that in the next two months.
"I'm learning more about how much faster I can get. I want to get faster and faster times, and I think that's important with what we do - we just try to keep on improving."
After an epic battle in the semifinal between Carrington and Douchev-Janics, the A final was always going to be the race to watch - and the pair didn't fail to provide the promised excitement.
The event very quickly turned into a two-horse race when the gun sounded, with the pair powering through the front of the field before Douchev-Janics managed to just edge Carrington in a photo finish.
Carrington's coach Gordon Walker was pleased with the process but had mixed emotions about the result.
"Of course, we're a little disappointed to miss the gold, especially when it's such a small margin, but she's absolutely rapt with the performance," Walker said.
But, despite settling for silver, Carrington was still satisfied to have something to show for her efforts in training.
"I think it's important," she said. "We've been working hard the last nine or so months. I would have been pretty confident as to where I was at, but it was good to get a result and prove it."
Two hours after the battle in the K1 200m, Carrington climbed into the K2 with Erin Taylor to contest the B final of the women's K2 500m. From the halfway mark, the pair moved to the front of the race and controlled it for the remainder to win by a full second.
Carrington has said her work in the two-person boat can only enhance her performance in the K1, but she was somewhat scuppered by the short turn-around between the two disciplines in Germany.
"It was a struggle to do the two in this regatta, but when the Olympics come around both events will be completely separate."
Carrington will now head to Munich for a training camp as part of the next stage of her Olympic campaign.