Carrington leads six-strong Olympic team

Lisa Carrington will be aiming to win another Olympic gold medal. Photo / Ben Fraser
Lisa Carrington will be aiming to win another Olympic gold medal. Photo / Ben Fraser

Lisa Carrington headlines a six-strong canoe sprint team to compete at Rio 2016, with the defending gold medallist selected alongside five paddlers set to make their Olympics debut.

Carrington, a multiple world champion and winner of the K1 200m at the London Games, will be joined for the first time by a women's K4 boat and by K1 1000m paddler Marty McDowell.

While McDowell is the sole male selected, the inclusion of Jaimee Lovett, Caitlin Ryan, Aimee Fisher and Kayla Imrie in the K4 more than doubles the number of New Zealand females competing at that level.

"We're delighted to see the investment in our women's programme paying off and our athletes getting the chance to show what they're capable of at the highest level," said Canoe Racing New Zealand chief executive Mark Weatherall.

"New Zealand has a proud Olympic kayaking history and we're excited to see that continue."

Carrington has high hopes of becoming one of New Zealand's most successful Olympians, eyeing gold in both the K1 200m and K1 500m. She has been unbeaten in the shorter distance for the last five years at the top level, adding the K1 500m world championship crown for the first time in Milan last year.

Carrington overtook Paul MacDonald as New Zealand's most successful world championship athlete, with five gold medals, and joined MacDonald as the only Kiwi to win two golds at the same championship. The 26-year-old was also the first woman in 16 years - and only third in history - to hold both the 200m and 500m titles at the same time.

The new K4 crew, which has been together for less than 18 months, also made a mark in Milan, reaching the K4 500m final and earning a qualifying spot for Rio. It came just three months after winning a round of the World Cup in Portugal.

It's been 24 years since New Zealand last had an Olympic K4 boat, with Richard Boyle, Finn O'Connor, Stephen Richards, and Mark Scheib making the semifinals in Barcelona in 1992, after earlier men's K4 crews in 1984 and 1988. Of the 24 New Zealanders who have paddled flat-water kayaks at the Olympic games, only three have been in the women's ranks.

McDowell will also make his Olympic debut after qualifying through the Oceania championships last month. His best World Cup performance was also in Portugal last year, when he picked up bronze in the K1 500m.

Both Carrington and McDowell are coached by Gordon Walker, with Rene Olsen controlling the women's programme and the K4.

These six canoe sprint athletes bring the New Zealand Olympic team to 48 confirmed athletes, joining fellow teammates from taekwondo, sailing, rowing and triathlon.

Canoe sprint team selected into New Zealand Olympic Games team:

Women's K1 200 and K1 500
Lisa Carrington

Men's K1 1000
Marty McDowell

Women's K4 500
Aimee Fisher
Kayla Imrie
Jaimee Lovett
Caitlin Ryan

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