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Day one of Canoe Racing New Zealand’s national sprint championship kicked off midday today with the focus being on the senior 1000m racing.
The weather was a true case of “four seasons in one day” with the noon commencement in calm, sunny conditions and the day switching from autumnal grey skies to wintry thunderstorms and heavy rain. With predominantly head winds throughout the conditions remained pretty even but were not conducive to the fast times we’ve come to expect of this event.
With the ICF Oceania Championships (the Olympic qualifying event, being held in Penrith, Australia) only 2 weeks away this national championship has certainly been geared to look long and hard at the athletes who are heading to these events.
The highlight of the day was the Men’s K1 1000m where Olympic hopeful Ben Fouhy dominated the race by 4 seconds. Second and third places went to other Olympic K2 hopefuls Steven Ferguson and Darryl Fitzgerald which bodes well for their Olympic qualifying campaign.
Steven Ferguson and Ben Fouhy went head to head for the first 600m with Ferguson pulling slightly ahead. With 400m to go Ben Fouhy drew even and pulled out his signature race plan to blast through to win by the 4 seconds.
In the women’s events we only saw the Under 23 woman racing today. This was dominated by Teneale Hatton who also has her sights set on Olympic qualification. Hatton won this event by 9 seconds from Eve Pinfold followed by Kayla Imrie. Teneale was tactically using this as a warm up the premier open woman’s event tomorrow.
Some of the future paddlers featured today in the Under 19 age group with paddlers Alex Fort and Zac Quickenden of the Arawa club winning 6 races in either single or team boats.
Their team mate Danielle Currie won the womens Under 19 section.
This is pleasing results with all these athletes named in the Oceania Team to travel to Australia in early March.
Tomorrow’s racing is predominantly the 500m distances with Sunday being the very fast and dynamic 200m distance.
Saturday is also an exciting evening for the kayakers with the inaugural Sports and Recognition Awards taking place in Rotorua. A highlight of this event has to be the reunion of the famous 1984 Olympic gold winning K4 of Ian Ferguson, Alan Thompson, Paul MacDonald and Grant Bramwell. They will be presenting the Team of the Year trophy, with Ferguson also presenting the Canoe Sprint Athlete of the Year and Thompson the Coach of the Year Award. Certainly the strong involvement that Ferguson, Thompson and MacDonald have had in kayaking over the past 20 plus years deserves high recognition and this will be given as they receive Life Membership Awards for their years of service to the sport of
kayaking in New Zealand, along with Dennis Rae of North Shore Canoe Club and Brett Leask of Arawa Kayak Club.
Other Recognition Awards will include Excellence and Service Awards, with the other Sports Awards including Junior, Marathon and Ocean Surf Ski Athletes of the Year, Official of the Year and Volunteer of the Year.