Young paddler set for Sydney regatta

By Iain Hyndman

Hard on the heels of top national honours Wanganui kayaker Toby Brooke is off to tackle the Australians this weekend.

The 15-year-old Wanganui High School student gained selection to the New Zealand U18 team to compete in the GP3 regatta in Sydney, but will race in the U-16 age group.

Brooke was a member of the 26-strong Wanganui Kayak Club squad that came second overall in the ICF Oceania and New Zealand Canoe Sprint Championships at Tikitapu (Blue Lake) in Rotorua two weeks ago and his performances were pivotal to the club's success.

Brooke won both the U16 K1 500m and 5km events and combined with classy clubmates Aiden Nossiter, Max Brown and Lachie Cromar to win the U18 K4 1000m final. He also finished second in the U16 K1 200m.

The tall, lanky teen left for Sydney yesterday and will begin his competition tomorrow contesting the U16 K1 1000m, 500m and 200m events for his country.

The Wanganui Kayak Club is a division of the Wanganui Multisport and Triathlon Club and Brooke's co-coaches Brian Scott and Aaron Cox are excited about the youngster's future.

"It's difficult to use his times from the nationals to judge how he compares going into the GP3, but mentally Toby is right up there," Scott said yesterday.

"It really does come down to the conditions - the weather plays such a big part in this sport. He knows what he has to do and whatever happens he will definitely improve ... simply through competing at this level."

Brooke said he, too, did not know how he would shape up against the Australians this weekend.

"I feel really good after the nationals, but I really have no idea how I will compare at this level," he said.

The Australian regatta is one of the biggest outside the world championships and the Olympics and features the cream of the world's paddlers including Kiwi Olympic gold medallist Lisa Carrington.

"This is a big event and I'm sure Toby will rise to the occasion in his age group," Scott said.

"I don't think an U16 has ever been selected as part of U18 squad for this event, so that's a feather in Toby's cap."

Brooke predicted the 1000m event would be his strongest, although he did not discount featuring in the finishes of the 500m or the 200m.

"I won the 5km at the nationals and that was a tough race.

"I wouldn't necessarily say the further the better for me, but I think the 1000m will be my strongest event this weekend," Brooke said.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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