Hawke's Bay's multiple World Cup kayaking titleholder Aimee Fisher admitted to being "wrecked" yesterday.
"I enjoyed the racing. It was a good experience having that intensity but I'm pretty sore ... I didn't have time to get the lactic acid out between finals," Fisher told her parents, Chris and Darryl, during a phone call home as she sat in an airport in Portugal.
The 22-year-old Karamu High School product was reflecting on her three gold medals won within a 130-minute period at the weekend's World Cup regatta at Portugal's Montemor-o-Velho venue.
"I've never gone into a regatta that well prepared and our results reflect that," Fisher said.
"The sport's just growing so much and it's pretty crazy to think it was back in 2015 that we won our first gold medal in the K4 here," Hawke's Bay's 2016 Sportsperson of the Year - and now a hot favourite for the 2018 gong - Fisher recalled.
A day after fellow Kiwi Caitlin Ryan's upset K1 500m victory, Fisher and Lisa Carrington paired up to win a dramatic K2 200m and 500m double just 50 minutes apart before linking with fellow Olympians Ryan and Kayla Imrie to capture the K4 500m crown near the end of the regatta. This gold medal haul is New Zealand's best-ever World Cup performance.
Hawke's Bay Kayaking Club member Fisher and Carrington were 0.689s clear of Portugal's Joana Vasconcelos and Francisca Laia in the K2 200m final. Another Kiwi crew of Imrie and Briar McLeely were fourth behind Ukraine's Anastasiia Todorova and Anastasiya Horlova.
Carrington and Fisher barely had time to dry off, accept their medals and stand for the national anthem before they were straight back in action, backing up in the K2 500m to win in 1:41.706. They were nearly three seconds ahead of Vasconcelos and Laia who stopped the clock at 1:44.530. The young Hungarian pair of Noemi Lucz and Zsofia Szenasi was third in 1:46.066 and New Zealand's second boat of Kim Thompson and Rebecca Cole was seventh in 1:47.730.
Fisher's father, Chris, said his daughter and Carrington saved a bit in the K2 500m final for their K4 500m final.
"It was the right decision. You've got to remember the Ukranian crew they beat in the K4 final was close to a medal at the Rio Olympics."
It was the first time Carrington, the multiple world and Olympic champion, had been in a team boat at this level since the 2012 London Olympics, where she paired with Erin Taylor but she realised after Rio she needed a fresh challenge.
"Aimee's got some incredible boat skills so when we got in we gelled pretty quickly. We're at an incredible level but it's early days. I haven't paddled a K2 at this level since London so it's been amazing to be here on top of the podium," Carrington said.
The K4 victory was much tighter but just as sweet with the Kiwi quartet holding off the challenge from Ukraine, who finished a spot ahead of them in fourth at last year's Olympics. The Kiwis stopped the clock at 1:32.105, 0.422s ahead of Ukraine and another youthful Hungarian team finished third in 1:35.077.
New Zealand's second boat of Thompson, McLeely, Cole and Britney Ford were sixth in 1:38.954.
Fisher will tackle the K1 200 at this weekend's World Cup regatta in Szeged, Hungary.
"Aimee has been looking forward to that for quite a long time," her father said.
Fisher's parents watched most of the regatta by livestream before switching over to Sky Sport for the finals.
"This weekend has been very good for the sport and good for Aimee's profile," her father said after doing well to stay awake for eight hours yesterday while on the job as a maintenance engineer for Enzafoods New Zealand.
"To complete three finals in that short a period is a massive challenge. The Kiwis are on track for a multitude of medals at the world champs," he added.
After Hungary the Kiwis will return home to continue training for the August 23-27 World Championships in the Czech Republic.
Karamu High School's head of sport, Tom Blake, said students and teachers at the school were elated yesterday.
"It was crazy trying to keep up with all the messages from current and former students on Facebook to Aimee. Our students have got a realisation they can be the next Aimee Fisher if they want to be ... she came all the way from little old Karamu."