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Bright future for canoe slalom in NZ, says Luuka Jones

Luuka Jones won silver in the  canoe slalom. Photo / photosport.co.nz
Luuka Jones won silver in the canoe slalom. Photo / photosport.co.nz

Rio canoe slalom silver medallist Luuka Jones expects the next generation of Kiwi paddlers to make waves in the sport now that the country has its own whitewater venue.

The $37 million Wero Whitewater Park opened in Manukau in April and Jones thinks it will only increase the number taking up the sport.

"We're really excited to have our own world-class whitewater course that's just going to add to the growth of the sport in New Zealand.

"We'll be able to host international events."

Mike Dawson, who with Jones is the face of the sport in New Zealand, is effusive in his praise of the new venue.

"It's exciting time for canoe slalom. You've got such an amazing facility, I don't think many people in New Zealand realise how world-class that facility is. It it is Olympic standard - you could run this race there - it's incredible," he told NZ Newswire before placing 10th in the men's event.

"With the course you're going to see a lot more young kids getting exposed to world-class level racing at a younger age.

"We're going to see a massive progression in elite canoe slalom performance."

Finn Butcher and Callum Gilbert both reached the semi-finals of the under-23 world championships in Poland in July and Jones says there is more talent on the horizon.

"We've got an awesome group of young paddlers coming through and hopefully our sport will get support to grow the organisation," said Jones.

- AAP

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