EXPECT Hawke's Bay's two-time world champion and Olympic rower Emma Twigg to be the major attraction at today's annual New Year's regatta at Clive.
That's only natural considering the success Twigg has had in recent years. But spectators at the country's oldest rowing regatta, which will be a joint rowing-kayaking event for the second consecutive year, should take a serious look at six other Bay competitors too.
Kayakers Jamie Welch, William Wilkins and Hamish Beattie along with rowers Julia Trautvetter, Julia Edward and Jason Kitchin will all use the event as their final rehearsal for next month's Youth Olympics in Sydney.
Their selection for the Youth Olympics indicates they have the potential to represent New Zealand at the 2012 Olympics in London or ones beyond that.
If the likes of Kitchin, Edward Trautvetter and Beattie are anything like Wilkins and Welch, SportToday has no doubt they will follow Twigg's wake and gain Olympic selection in the future. We were impressed with the duo's commitment and focus.
In Welch's case were weren't that surprised. The 16-year-old Havelock North High School year 13 student is the youngest of three members of her family who have represented New Zealand.
``I want to record some personal bests and make the final in the K2 500,' said Welch who will tackle the K1 1000 and K2 500 and 1000 events in Sydney with Wellingtonian Kayla Imrie.
``Hopefully I can get some medals and PBs,' said Wilkins who will tackle the same events as Welch.
A 17-year-old former Hastings Boys High School student, Wilkins, will start a science and technology course at Victoria University this year. He will be partnered by Beattie in his K2 events in Sydney.
Welch and Wilkins, who are both in their third year of kayaking and are coached by Phil Dooney and Pip Pearse, will be aiming for top two finishes in their respective K1, K2 and K4 500 events today.
``If we can get those finishes it will be good for our confidence as we approach the Youth Olympics,' said Wilkins.
``Before the Youth Olympics start we're going to be in camp for four days which will also help,' said Wilkins.
Like Wilkins, Welch, has a surf lifesaving background and has also followed a similar training schedule in recent months since helping their Hawke's Bay Kayaking Club win the top junior club award for the third consecutive year at the Takapuna-hosted nationals back in March.
They have two 90-minute training sessions six days a week.
If they're not on the water the sessions will consist of swimming, sprints or surf lifesaving activities.
Wilkins highlights on the national scene before his Youth Olympics selection were a second placing in the K4 at the March nationals and a third in the K2 with clubmate Kieran Foley. Welch won the national 10km K2 title with clubmate Jordan Pearse back in June and collected second placings in K2 and K4 events at the March nationals.
The pair know success in Sydney could be the start of lengthy international kayaking careers.
Their club will be one of several from throughout the lower North Island represented today.
Twigg will spearhead a strong New Zealand summer squad contingent including Youth Olympic crews.
The final event of the day will be a 200m sprint shootout worth $1000.