Three Whanganui paddlers produced outstanding performances to bring home medals from the 2018 Canoe Sprint Oceania Championships and Grand Prix 2 in Sydney last weekend.
Sixteen-year-olds Lucas Thompson and Jack Clifton joined 17-year-old Liam Lace to represent New Zealand in the under-18 division at the Sydney International Regatta Centre in Penrith.
Clifton and Lace claimed gold and an Oceania title in the K4 500m, while Clifton also won silver in the K2 500m and bronze in the K2 1000m events. Thompson took bronze in the K4 500m.
The trio train out of the Whanganui Kayak Club under coach Brian Scott who was full of praise for the youngsers.
"Basically the boys gave a good account of themselves in what must have been one of the most successful Oceania campaigns for New Zealand u18 teams," Scott said.
"They contended with 38 degree heat, travel delays and at one point someone found a snake in one of their boats. All very challenging.
"They will be looking forward to the nationals on February 23/24/25 on Lake Karapiro where they will be up against other members of the New Zealand team, as well as a number of other good paddlers who didn't make the team, all vying for national titles and club glory."
Scott said the three were likely to team up with former kayak club paddler Max Brown in the K4 open division at the nationals. Brown is currently in training with the New Zealand elite squad.
"The success of Kiwi paddlers on the world stage has not gone unnoticed and international athletes are now targeting our national championships - we are now a ry popular nation to be competing against and our Whanganui athletes are very much a part of that."
All three Whanganui High School students had been selected on race performance and a national assessment camp at Lake Karapiro last year then gained valuable insight into top level paddling when double world U23 champ Aimee Fisher repaid Scott a favour.
Fisher visited the Whanganui Kayak Club to host a two-day workshop in lare December.
"I've known Aimee for a while now and she owed my a favour so came over to Whanganui for two days. She held a couple of workshops on the water and then just hung with the kids for question/answer sessions. The kids benefited hugely from it, especially Lucas, Jack and Liam."