Steven Ferguson has always looked up to his father - quadruple Olympic champion Ian Ferguson.

Now the 31-year-old has hopes to also inspire his own son, Flynn.

Paddlers from around New Zealand converge on Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake) in Rotorua today for this year's Canoe Sprint National Championships. The main interest will be in the open men's and women's races, where Olympic spots are up for grabs.

Along with his K2 paddling partner, Gisborne's Darryl Fitzgerald, Ferguson is hoping to make his third, possibly last, crack at the Olympics.


"After this Olympics, I'm definitely looking at hanging up the kayak paddle and picking up the surf paddle," he said.

"If selected, it would be my third kayaking Olympics. It's a long time to kind of be at your peak and working at a high level and also I've just got a 4-month-old little boy. So I want to spend a bit of time with him and my wife and enjoy his first years.

"I want to be a good role model for my son. When I grew up I was watching my dad race, and he was a world-beater, I'd like to have him grow up watching his dad succeed and do well and hopefully that motivates him to make something of himself."

Ferguson and Fitzgerald are looking to compete in the K2 200m and the K2 1000m at the London Olympics.

The pair will be joined this weekend by Ben Fouhy in the K1 200m and the K1 1000m and world champion Lisa Carrington, who will race her specialist K1 200m and the K1 500m, as well as teaming up with K2 partner Erin Taylor.

Carrington and Taylor directly qualified the K1 and K2 boats at the 2011 ICF Canoe Sprint world championships in Hungary last year, however, they must still perform to achieve Olympic selection.

"I think it's great having someone like Lisa doing so well at the moment," Ferguson said. "It's good to have her and to be able to watch her last year do so well. So this year it will be a good opportunity to get the boys up on the dais."