Lydia Ko

The paddling world couldn't say it hadn't been warned.

Lisa Carrington shocked the sport by winning the world 200m title in Hungary 16 months ago. But could she back it up at the London Olympics?

After all, her chief rival, multi-medalled Hungarian Natasa Douchev-Janics was missing from last year's event. Now she was back and chasing more Olympic success in London.

As she waited on the start line, Carrington might just have recalled the words of her father about 16 years ago as she watched Danyon Loader win one of his Atlanta Games swimming gold medals.


"You could do that one day. If you put your mind to it, you can go," was Dad's tip to his 6-year-old daughter.

That day at Eton Dorney was the culmination of a dream.

If there were any nerves rattling they didn't show as she powered down the centre of the course.

It's not a discipline of any subtlety. There's no time for tactics. Just get from A to B faster than the others alongside you.

So the Whakatane kayaker did just that, clocking 44.638 seconds to pip Ukranian Inna Osypenko-Radomska by 0.415s, with Douchev-Janics third a further 0.075s back.

Hysterics, flailing arms, a scream of delight perhaps? Nah, none of that. A quiet smile and, eventually, an undemonstrative wave to the Kiwi supporters who were on hand beside the course.

Carrington was the inaugural winner of a new Olympic event, the first New Zealand woman to win a kayak Olympic medal, and first New Zealander to do so since the halcyon days of Ian Ferguson and Paul MacDonald in Seoul 24 years ago. Later Carrington admitted there had been some butterflies but, "I've been working on that for the past year preparing for that pressure".

Surf lifesaving led her to canoeing and now Carrington finds herself the face of the sport. Canoeing has been through difficult times of late, on and off the water.

Carrington has shown what is possible with a bit of self-belief and determination to make the most of her talents.

She'll be 27 in Rio in four years' time. The paddling world is her oyster.

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