Rio Olympics 2016: Women's kayaking quartet send warning ahead of final

By Daniel Gilhooly

New Zealand's Jaimee Lovett, Kayla Imrie, Aimee Fisher and Caitlin Ryan. Photo / AP
New Zealand's Jaimee Lovett, Kayla Imrie, Aimee Fisher and Caitlin Ryan. Photo / AP

The New Zealand women's kayaking quartet have issued a warning to their Olympic final rivals - they're not a one-trick pony.

Jaimee Lovett, Kayla Imrie, Aimee Fisher and Caitlin Ryan powered into tonight's 500 metre final in resounding style, dominating their semifinal at Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon.

Needing a top-three finish, they bolted from the blocks and built a buffer of nearly half a length by the midway point. More importantly, they maintained it, heading off Ukraine and Denmark.

It was a telling statement from the youthful Kiwis, who arrived in Rio with a reputation for fast starts.

Ryan says their lung-busting year is starting to pay dividends.

"People discount it, but we've got that endurance now," she told NZ Newswire.

"You've either got endurance or you don't and we can't be counted out at the end of the race either. All of us trust each other to finish well and we've shown that here."

New Zealand's time of one minute 34.778 seconds was the second-fastest across both semifinals.

It was fractionally slower than Germany, who they expect to be keen medal rivals in the eight-boat final along with heat winners Hungary and Belarus.

Gold favourites Hungary include multiple world champion Danuta Kozak, who is chasing a third gold at the regatta.

The Kiwis say they won't bow to reputations, having enjoyed a gradual increase in confidence since the uncertainty of their embryonic stage two years ago.

"We never really knew what we had in us," Ryan said. "We had not much expectation but as we came together and kept working, we thought 'why not?'

"We've got the potential, we've done the training and now it's becoming more real as time goes by. This year we've set ourselves in medal contention." Earlier the Kiwis were sixth-fastest overall through the heats, finishing a comfortable third behind winners Belarus.

That race made history for New Zealand, which has never previously fielded a women's Olympic quartet. The last men's K4 team competed 24 years ago.

After qualifying at last August's world championships, the foursome placed fifth and third at recent World Cup regattas.

A medal would be a third for the sprint canoe squad in Rio after Lisa Carrington secured a K1 gold and bronze.

While the Kiwi quartet were already involved in surf lifesaving and canoeing before Carrington's emergence, they have been inspired by her deeds.

"She's cracked into the big time and has been one of the best female athletes in the world for a few years now," Lovett said.

"To watch her here for the last couple of days, paddle the way she does and approach it the way she does is really inspiring. If we can follow that lead, we'll be pretty happy."

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