Canoe paddler Michael Esterhuizen is taking the first steps in what he hopes is a champion career.
The 15-year-old Trident High School student has been named as part of Canoe Racing New Zealand's high performance athlete pathway. He has been named in the foundation squad which will take part in three camps, with two in Rotorua on August 10 and December 9. The other camp is in Twizel on September 30.
Hailing from Whakatāne, it would be against the grain if Michael did not have high aspirations, sharing the hometown of double Olympic champion Lisa Carrington and K4 Olympian Jamie Lovett.
"I would like to win a world championship gold medal in K2 or K1 - anything really. Also making the Olympics would be a massive dream for me, just getting to experience the Olympics would be massive. I will certainly need to do more training and time on the water and maybe a bit more gym stuff as I get older."
Like Carrington and Lovett, Michael's journey to canoe sprint was preceded by surf lifesaving.
"I love the competitiveness of paddling. I came from surf lifesaving. I came and tried kayaking to get my surf ski skills up. I hopped in a kayak and learned how to paddle properly and get the right technique and I was going to transfer that over to surf lifesaving.
"Then it started to work out quite well for me and I carried on with that. Last year I started to take it a bit more seriously and started to aim for the New Zealand team."
The cross-training worked, as Michael claimed a bronze medal in the under-16 ski race at the New Zealand Surf Lifesaving Championships in Mount Maunganui in March this year. Michael hopes to see the same kind of improvement in the upcoming canoe camps.
"You get put into different squads and there is the foundation squad, which I'm in, there is a paddle ID above foundation and the one above paddle ID is pathway to podium.
"I would like to get to know the boys better that I will be paddling with at competitions and learn how they paddle because that is who I will be paddling with in future years and who I will be doing team boats with. I also want to work on my individual stuff, my boat and work on my technique."
Last year I started to take it a bit more seriously and started to aim for the New Zealand team.
CRNZ performance development manager Aaron Osborne says the foundation camps are an important first step.
"The pathway to high performance starts in the foundation programme. It is learning the foundation principles in sprint kayaking around technique as well as off-water life in things like nutrition and psychology. They will get access to workshops around those skills."
The paddlers were invited on their results from the national and the Asia Pacific championship events.
CRNZ foundation squad camps:
August 10, Rotorua.
September 30, Twizel.
December 9, Rotorua.