World champion kayaker Lisa Carrington showed her dreams of doing an Olympic double are right on track at today's NZCT canoe sprint national championships, while Marty McDowell's chances of making it to Rio de Janeiro also received a ringing endorsement.
Carrington felt plenty of pressure going into today's K1 500m final, after Teneale Hatton inflicted a rare defeat over the distance before Christmas.
And while the Whakatane paddler was all fizz and power in winning yesterday's K1 200m final, she had to dig deep to overcome a spirited Hatton today.
"The competition is so strong, so to have the performance I wanted was a big relief and it's just one step towards the Olympics," Carrington said, after finishing in 1min 57.83secs, 1.73secs ahead of Hatton, with another North Shore club member Caitlin Ryan third just 0.34secs further back. "I really wanted to do well here so I put a lot of pressure on myself and I need that pressure and nerves to produce a really good performance."
McDowell, meanwhile, finished second to Adam van Koeverden in today's feature men's race, the K1 1000m, although the 2004 Canadian Olympic gold medalist was impressed with how McDowell is paddling ahead of Olympic selections.
"He hasn't stamped his ticket yet but he should be the entry," van Koeverden said. "He's the fastest guy in New Zealand since Ben Fouhy and Marty's possibly a bit more consistent than Ben. He's very competitive internationally."
McDowell won the recent Oceania qualifying spot, beating van Koeverden in the process in Adelaide, although he still needs to convince the New Zealand Olympic Committee he can be competitive in Rio. The pair will spend the next week training together in Auckland.
Carrington's selection is virtually assured, meanwhile, which means that her hard work has only just begun, with world cup racing on the horizon.
"This is halfway and after this, I'll settle back down and get back into the hard yards before the Olympics," she said. "It's just taking small steps and working towards that really great performance, trying every day to get better and closer to my potential."
Tomorrow's final day at the NZCT national championships sees an emphasis on team boats in the open ranks, with finals in the men's K2 and K4 1000m and the women's K2 and K4 500m.