Simon Plumb is a journalist for the Herald on Sunday

Rio Olympics 2016: Lisa Carrington a 'rock star'

Lisa Carrington. Photo / Getty Images
Lisa Carrington. Photo / Getty Images

Kayaker Lisa Carrington is regarded as the rock star of her sport in Europe and is hunted down and mobbed for her autograph her mum says

The 27-year-old is preparing to launch her quest to become the first New Zealand woman to win two gold medals at the same Olympic Games.

He parents Glynis and Pat Carrington, and two older brothers Shaun and Brett, boarded a flight to Rio over the weekend where they will join her partner, Michael Buck.

Her mother, speaking to the Herald before flying out, paid heartfelt tribute to a hard-working and humble daughter.

"I totally admire her," Glynis Carrington said.

"As a family we're tremendously proud of the young woman and the dedication she has to be the best she can be.

"We find it all really interesting to watch. It's such a big sport in Europe, bigger than rugby because of the population.

At events over there she's regarded as a celebrity, people are hunting her down for autographs and mobbing her. It's crazy.

"Kiwis might recognise her and stand back and say 'there goes whoever it is' but they won't intrude on privacy."

Over the next six days they hope to not only see Lisa defend the K1 200m crown she won at the London Olympics in 2012, but also add the K1 500m title.

It all boils down to a busy four-day window starting in the early hours of Tuesday with the 200m heats - and a potential semifinal the same day and the final on Wednesday just after midnight. Carrington's 500m quest kicks off on Thursday with heats and semifinals both pencilled in. If qualified, she would return for a 500m final on Friday morning just before 1am (NZT).

Carrington's family were on hand to witness her 2012 triumph.

If the sporting star from Ohope Beach can pull off the double gold strike, the Carrington name will forever be etched into Kiwi Olympic history.

The significance of this isn't lost on Glynis, who simply says her daughter has "done the training and will pull what she's got on the day."

"There will be heaps and heaps of nerves in the stands, but once that first stroke has gone, you get this amazing release of emotion, willing her to the finish," Glynis said. "It's so exciting.

"It was so surreal watching her win in London. I looked back the other day at some photos while getting organised to go over to Brazil. It does not seem like four years ago."

Carrington's parents - Glynis and Pat - run a Ohope motel and are teachers by trade. While Lisa has fiercely pursued a career in sport, the educational apple hasn't fallen far from the tree.

"She already has a Bachelor of Arts and is now doing papers toward a psychology degree," Glynis said.

"It's a lot to take on and the risk of being overwhelmed by everything is very real, but she is incredibly resilient.

"She's obviously grown a lot in confidence, but as a little girl she was very, very shy. She still is, really.

"When she was at school and Lisa couldn't be with friends for whatever reason because she was training or competing, those friends were incredibly supportive. They've all kept in touch from third form days all the way through, they are rare group."

Glynis said despite her daughter already being an Olympic champion, she is still confronted with "pinch me" moments.

At 27, and at the peak of her career, there could be many more to come. But any talk of Tokyo 2020 is nipped in the bud, like only a teacher can.

"She's absolutely focussed on next week," Glynis said "But she is really enjoying herself."

- NZ Herald

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