Hawke's Bay kayaker Aimee Fisher's late decision to a tackle a third event at the junior world championships in Canada has paid off big time.
Fisher, 18, and Gisborne's Kim Thompson won bronze in their K2 500m final on Monday. Romanian and Spanish crews were first and second respectively and the Kiwi duo pipped Poland in a nail-biting battle for bronze.
"I very nearly didn't do K2, I thought three events would be too much at an international regatta. It was only a couple of weeks out when Alan [Olympic Games gold medallist Alan Thompson] managed to convince me to do it with his daughter. I was originally so set on saying no," Fisher said yesterday as she reflected on her success.
Karamu High School product Fisher and Thompson's bronze is New Zealand's first junior world championship medal. Our previous best was a third in a B final by Lisa Carrington in 2007.
Olympic Games gold medallist Carrington was among the first to congratulate Fisher by text.
"I was absolutely hysterical when they announced our third placing. We only just pipped the Polish crew. I feel like I had the race of a lifetime ... I think we were like sixth with 200m to go and we just brought it home," Fisher explained.
Earlier on Monday Fisher, a first year bachelor of business studies student at EIT, finished fifth in her K1 200m final. She had hopes of a top three finish and finished 0.1 of a second off third and 1.478 seconds behind the Danish winner Emma Jorgensen.
"So like the K4 [Fisher was a member of the Kiwi K4 team which finished sixth on Sunday] it was a photo finish. It's a bit cruel to miss out by that much, but hey that's sport. It just makes you appreciate how much every stroke counts.
"If I had applied a little bit more pressure to the blade in the last couple of strokes it could have been a different result. But I'm not upset about it, I gave it my all. It hasn't been the ideal buildup, for the last four weeks I haven't been hitting my usual maximum speeds which has been pretty upsetting.
"But it's been a really good learning experience and I can't wait to get home and start training, those girls better watch out," the Jarrod Cunningham Trust and Aspyre Fitness-sponsored Fisher said.
"Team boats cost me an individual medal but I have no regrets ... I'm still coming home with a medal."
Fisher's father Chris said the four-day championships had been an emotional roller coaster.
"There has been a lot of disappointment and a lot of satisfaction. After she missed out on a medal in the K1 Aimee knew she had to lift herself for the K2 ... she had a cry and we went through the reasons.
"She managed to control her emotions ... in the past she hasn't been as good at doing that at international events," he said.
He pointed out his daughter now has a good chance of scoring a Prime Minister's scholarship which will pay for her studies at EIT.
Fisher's coach for the past three years, Ben Bennett of Napier, said Fisher exceeded his expectations in all of the events apart from the K1 where he was hoping for a medal.
"To come out later in the day with Kim and win bronze was brilliant."
Bennett added that while it would have been nice to be in Canada with Fisher he was able to watch live streaming of her races and pass on regular tips. He is looking forward to her progress in the under-23 and open women's ranks on the national scene next summer.