Rio Olympic silver medallist Luuka Jones has confirmed she wants to double up in both the C1 and K1 canoe slalom events at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

Jones, whose whoop of joy when she realised what she had achieved in Rio was among the enduring New Zealand images from the Games, has discovered not only does she enjoy the C1 discipline - where competitors paddle a single-sided blade while balanced on one knee, as opposed to sitting in the canoe with a two-sided paddle - but she's got a high degree of aptitude for it.

Put it down to the learning experience of several months in Europe for the 28-year-old from Tauranga.

She headed overseas thinking she would like to have a crack at the C1 class, a high dose of curiosity part of her thinking. After all, if she could succeed in K1, at her third Olympics, why not the other version? Before the season began, Jones had talked in a "let's see how it goes" fashion.


The result: making three C-class finals at world cups, including a fourth at Augsburg, Germany and two sevenths in Ivrea, Italy and La Seu d'Urgell in Spain from four events.

"If you'd told me then I would make all but one C1 final I would have been very happy. There have been a few challenges but overall I'm thrilled how it's gone so far," Jones said.

And out of it has come a determination to stick with the two arms of the sport. So cue Tokyo and the double attempt.

"Absolutely. I can't imagine not doing C1. I would really struggle to give it up," she said.

"We [Jones and coach Campbell Walsh] said we would review it after this year, and after two years, but now I'm committed.

"We've learnt a lot this year and it's about sitting down after the worlds and saying what worked, what didn't. Next year will be a big learning year as well."

Out of all this has come one slightly strange development. As her C1 game has come on in giant leaps, her form has dipped in K1, the event where she gave New Zealand a surprise medal success in Rio after years of dedication.

She was fourth in Prague at the start of the cup campaign, then 12th in Augsburg, but then, as she quipped, in Ivrea and Seu "I bombed out, didn't bother to look [at the times]".

And Jones has come to an intriguing conclusion: "I think I am more naturally talented in C1 than K1".

"I have noticed some things I do more naturally in C1. There are definitely learnings I can take from C1 into K1, just some of the lines I naturally take, I could be taking in K1.

"In the past I had to work quite hard at developing my technique in K1. I have been doing it my whole life and I had developed bad habits so I'm still ironing some of those out."

The upshot of her notable progression in C1 has meant having to work hard on balancing her time between the two disciplines - getting one up to speed while maintaining her high quality in the other.

"Because I'm not able to spend quite as much time in K1, I do feel sometimes I am battling to maintain my improvement. It's quite difficult.

"If something is not going well in one class, you want to spend more time working on that, but don't want to be compromising the other class. It's been a bit of a mental battle.

"But there's definitely more positives than negatives."

One upside has been her time based in Pau this season, with other New Zealand paddlers, including leading male and good mate Mike Dawson. He enjoyed his first World Cup victory recently. They are doing the Euro-centric sport's profile plenty of good in another part of the world.

Pau has a rugby team with several New Zealanders, notably former All Blacks Conrad Smith and Colin Slade.

"It's nice to hang out with people who get New Zealand jokes," she said with a laugh.

The New Zealand team for the world champs:

Men: K1:

Callum Gilbert (BOP), Mike Dawson (BOP), Finn Butcher (Otago). C1: Shaun Higgins (BOP), Patrick Washer (BOP).

Women: K1: Luuka Jones (BOP), Kensa Randle (Otago), Courtney Williams (BOP). C1: Jones, Kelly Travers (Auck).

Slalom star

• Luuka Jones has set her sights on contesting the K1 and C1 canoe slalom disciplines at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
• She won silver in the K1 class at last year's Rio Olympics but has taken a shine to the C1 category as well on the back of encouraging world cup form this year in Europe.
• She will spearhead a New Zealand team of 10 athletes at the world championships, starting in Pau, France on Tuesday.