Rio Olympics 2016: Lisa Carrington not distracted by continual domination

By David Leggat

Lisa Carrington now has four world championships and two Olympic golds, but has is still as determined as ever. Photo / Getty
Lisa Carrington now has four world championships and two Olympic golds, but has is still as determined as ever. Photo / Getty

Shortly before heading to Europe in early May for the final stages of her Olympic preparation, Lisa Carrington talked of what's in her mind on the startline.

It was an intriguing analysis of what lay ahead for the champion paddler, who today won her second consecutive K1 200m Olympic gold medal.

"Focus on the first stroke," she said with complete simplicity.

It cut through any amount of waffle you can hear from other athletes.

"It's the point where you really want to be confident and have a lot of courage to race well. But for me it's about keeping it simple."

And when Carrington crossed the finish line on the waters of Lagoa today, she produced a beaming smile, once she had confirmation that she had again proved herself the quickest of women sprint racers at the Games regatta.

She's now got four world championship titles to go with two Olympic golds in the discipline.

Carrington, proud product of Whakatane High School, is also the first New Zealand woman to win gold in Rio.

Only five New Zealanders have won two or more gold medals at the same Olympics - Peter Snell at Tokyo in 1964, when he did the 800m/1500m middle-distance double; paddlers Ian Ferguson, Paul Macdonald and Alan Thompson at Los Angeles in 1984; and swimmer Danyon Loader in the 200-400m freestyle double at Atlanta in 1996.

But anyone expecting wild celebrations from the New Zealander would have been disappointed. In truth, that was never going to happen, partly because she still has the 500m event to follow, but also it's not her way.

Happy, emotional yes; but whooping delight, vigorous punching of the air, joyous screams, no.

There had been no talk from Carrington about defending her crown from London. It doesn't work that way. That is the wrong philosophy. After all plenty can happen in four years.

"I think it's more about improving and trying to be better and doing things really well. It's been a gradual build. Compared to four years ago it's quite different.

"I feel four years older, and four years more experienced."

Carrington is tight with her coach Gordon Walker. She talks of his intuitive ability to know when changes might be needed in training, or when to press on down a certain path.

They do disagree at times, Walker has said. And that's just fine.

Not in an 'I'm not doing that today' way, but "she might just give me the impression she doesn't want to do it".

"You need to have enough security in yourself, and the relationship, that you can have a disagreement and that's a good thing.

"Hopefully we'll have a few more. It's about challenging each other."

Walker, a seasoned coach who has been around elite sport for years, rates Carrington an exceptional athlete.

"She's a very hard worker, always aspiring to want to become better. From my point of view she's very enjoyable to work with."

That day before leaving for Europe, Carrington put into perspective what she has been through preparing for Rio.

"You go through a lot of emotional roller coasters. Being scared of racing, scared of losing.

"For me it's a maximum of three minutes racing (in her two disciplines). It's such a short period so you have to really value your time outside of the racing because you spend years and years training and maybe an hour of your entire life racing."

And times like today are the reward for all that work, the sacrifices Carrington has put in for the last four years.

- NZ Herald

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