Hawke's Bay's Sportsperson of the Year Aimee Fisher will be one of the busiest Kiwi kayakers at this weekend's World Cup regatta in the Czech Republic.
Fisher and her fellow Rio Olympic-bound K4 500m teammates, Jaimee Lovett, Caitlin Ryan and Kayla Imrie, will have heats and semifinals tomorrow night with the aim of qualifying for Sunday's final so they can improve on last weekend's fifth placing at the first World Cup of the season in Germany.
Fisher and Lovett will also combine in a K2 boat which will have a straight-final tomorrow night.
The K4 crew will be the only Kiwis at the Racice regatta this weekend, with Lisa Carrington and Marty McDowell preparing instead for World Cup 3 in Portugal next week.
The K4 impressed in Germany last weekend finishing fifth in the 500m and picking up bronze in the non-Olympic K4 200m.
Their coach Rene Olsen is delighted with the progress.
It's been nine months since the K4 qualified for Rio at the world championships and 18 months since Olsen started working with them but the former Danish athlete coach believes they're a vastly different crew this season.
"World Cup 1 really showed how far we have come, over the last nine months, with our speed and our strength work," Olsen said.
"It was a much stronger appearance at international level. They're very disciplined and professional with what they're doing - you can really see they know what to do as a team and as individuals. They really believe they belong up there and they're not afraid of going out and giving the world champions a run for their money."
The proof of that came in both the K4 500m and 200m finals last weekend, where Lovett, Ryan, Fisher and Imrie led off the start in both races ahead of world champions Belarus.
That surpassed speed goals they'd set after the world championships and left Olsen greatly encouraged as he plans the next 10 weeks of training.
"Analysing the race out of World Cup 1, we could see that we were the crew with the most distance per stroke, which shows that the girls really have the strength they need. It's much easier for us, over the last 75 days, to gain the speed endurance than it is for the other crews to try to be stronger than they are right now."
The K4 will skip the final World Cup in Portugal, where Carrington and McDowell will be New Zealand's sole representatives.