Rotorua aims to be home for canoe racers

By Gary Hamilton-Irvine

Rotorua has made a proposal to be the home for the high-performance centre for Canoe Racing New Zealand, which would see more Olympic medal hopefuls based in the city.

If the proposal is successful up to 20 high-performance athletes - including medal hopefuls for the 2016 Rio Olympics - will do their flat-water canoe training on Rotorua lakes.

Rotorua District Council economic and regulatory group manager Mark Rawson said they were approached about a week ago to put forward a proposal for consideration, and sent it away yesterday.

After a successful 2012 London Olympic Games, which saw Whakatane's Lisa Carrington win gold in the K-1 200m, the Government has allocated $1 million for the establishment of a high-performance canoe centre.

It has been reported Auckland, Cambridge, Tauranga and Rotorua were in contention for the centre.

Mr Rawson said he was told the high-performance centre would be in place by October, so he expected a reply on their proposal within the next couple of weeks.

He said Rotorua's proposal was built around the lake environment and Waiariki Institute of Technology's Academy of Sport.

"Our proposal is based around up to 20 high-performance athletes being based in Rotorua."

He said the athletes' main aim would be building for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"Our proposal includes multiple lake options, which will be based at Blue Lake," he said.

"We have a pretty good high-performance environment."

He said lakes which could be used for canoe training and racing included Okataina, Rotoiti, Okareka, Tarawera and Tikitapu (Blue Lake).

Mr Rawson said at this point the only extra infrastructure that would need to be built would be a place to store athletes' equipment.

He said they had intentionally included Waiariki Institute of Technology's Academy of Sport, which gives athletes an educational opportunity and takes advantage of the high-performance programme already in place.

Mr Rawson said from the public's point of view, there were no concerns about closing the lakes more regularly for training purposes.

Mr Rawson said the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and the harbourmaster were also supportive of the Rotorua proposal.

A recommendation on the preferred venue will be made to Canoe Racing New Zealand within the next 10 days.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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