Olympics: Carrington paddles for gold

By David Leggat

New Zealand canoe sprint medal-hope Lisa Carrington. Photo / Brett Phibbs NZ Herald
New Zealand canoe sprint medal-hope Lisa Carrington. Photo / Brett Phibbs NZ Herald

World champion paddler Lisa Carrington produced an Olympic best time to qualify fastest for tonight's K1 200m sprint final.

Carrington won her semifinal in 40.528 seconds, trimming .873s off her heat time 90 minutes earlier on Eton Dorney.

The Bay of Plenty paddler had a cracking duel with Spain's Teresa Portela Rivas in the middle of the course for the two guaranteed places in the final from the semifinal.

The pair were decisively the sharpest paddlers in the field, and Carrington just edged in front about 30m from the finish, crossing .370s ahead of the Spaniard - then gave a grin and discreet thumbs-up to her team-mates on the bank.

Three-time Olympic champion Natasa Douchev-Janics and Russian Natalia Lobova won the other two semifinals, but Janics' 40.570s left her a blink behind the 23-year-old from Ohope with the Russian having the third best time.

In her heat, Carrington was drawn alongside her toughest rival Douchev-Janics.

The former Serb, who switched citizenship eight years ago, pipped Carrington in what amounted to a dress rehearsal for the final, clocking 41.221s to Carrington's 41.401s.

As she crossed the finish, Janics, 30, whipped her head to the left for a quick glance at the New Zealander, whom she clearly views as her closest rival, and ensured she got early bragging rights in what is shaping as a ding-dong battle in the final.

Douchev-Janics, world champion in 2010, was missing in Szeged, Hungary last year when Carrington raised eyebrows by winning the world title.

She took time away from the sport to have her first baby.

The pair had one meeting earlier this season, in a world cup regatta in Germany, where the Hungarian prevailed by just 0.09s over Carrington.

- NZ Herald

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