Watch out world. Lisa Carrington has no doubts that she can improve, which is bad news for her rivals around the globe.

The triple Olympic medalist picked up the Halberg Supreme award on Thursday night, becoming the first kayaker since Ian Ferguson in 1984 to take out New Zealand sport's most prestigious honour.

It was due recognition for Carrington, who was also named the sportswoman of the year, after being a finalist on five previous occasions but missing out to either Dame Valerie Adams or Lydia Ko.

Carrington's unique feat in Rio - she became the first female from this country to win multiple medals at a single Olympics - cemented her place among the best paddlers in the world. She has been virtually unbeatable in the K1-200 over the last four years and has been a regular on the podium in the longer 500m discipline.

Advertisement

But the 27-year-old believes she can get better, as she plots the next Olympic cycle.

"Yes I think [I can]," said Carrington.

"I guess in a way that is all we are trying to do. Push our physiology and our mental skills to get better all the time. All you can do is hope that you can get better. I am really lucky I have people like 'Gordie' (coach Gordon Walker) that can find areas where I can grow and learn."

Along with perhaps rowing and cycling, canoeing is one of the most physically demanding sports on the planet. Carrington maintains a relentless training regime - she has a session planned for Friday morning, the night after her big win - but thrives on the constant challenge.

Sportsman of the year: Mahe Drysdale

"I turn up and I enjoy what I do," said Carrington. "I know what I am trying to achieve and when I have those goals in mind it's easy to turn up and enjoy it because I am always getting something out of it. When I am achieving something - whether I am getting faster or more resilient - that is enough for me to keep training and doing what I am doing."

Carrington's challenge over the next four years could be her greatest yet. She will be the hunted - the undoubted world No1 - and it can be difficult to constantly stay ahead of the pack.

"It's really hard to stay at the top because you have to keep forging new boundaries and new paths but that is what I like doing and I keep challenging myself," said Carrington.

"It's going to be hard but we wouldn't do it if it wasn't."

Carrington was elated to share her success with Walker, who was named coach of the year.

"It's probably about having different goals and a different purpose," said Walker of the future.

"It will be finding out what that is and I'm pretty sure she will do that. It's not about just staying at the top; the minute you try and do that you'll find yourself beside someone else instead of in front of them."

The winners

Supreme Halberg Award winner:

Lisa Carrington (canoeing).

Finalists: Mahe Drysdale (rowing), Liam Malone (para-athletics), men's 49er - Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (yachting).

Sportswoman of the Year: Lisa Carrington (canoeing).
Finalists: Luuka Jones (canoeing), Lydia Ko (golf), Dame Valerie Adams (athletics).

Sportsman of the Year: Mahe Drysdale (rowing).
Finalists: Joseph Parker (boxing), Nick Willis (athletics) Tom Walsh (athletics).

Disabled Sportsperson of the Year: Liam Malone (para-athletics).
Finalists: Anna Grimaldi (para-athletics), Mary Fisher (para-swimming), Sophie Pascoe (para-swimming).

Team of the Year: Men's 49er - Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (yachting).
Finalists: Men's pair - Hamish Bond and Eric Murray (rowing), Team Sprint - Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster (cycling), Women's 470 - Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (yachting).

Coach of the Year: Gordon Walker (canoeing).
Finalists: Hamish Willcox (yachting), Jeremy McColl (athletics), Steve Hansen (rugby).

Favourite Sporting Moment: Eliza McCartney (athletics).

Emerging Talent: Campbell Stewart (cycling).
Finalists: Dylan Schmidt (trampoline), Finn Bilous (snow sports), Maynard Peel (cycling BMX).

Leadership Award: Sophie Pascoe (para-swimming).

Lifetime Achievement Award: Myra Larcombe (swimming).

Hall of Fame inductees: Ruben Wiki (league), Don Jowett (athletics).