Kayaker Lisa Carrington has eyes on gold

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 05:00 04/05/2012
Lisa Carrington
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ
STROKE OF LUCK: Lisa Carrington has the advantage of the K2 before her favoured event.

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World champion canoe sprinter Lisa Carrington is confident she can capture gold on her Olympic debut.

The 22-year-old became a household name overnight nine months ago when she won the K1 200m world title in Szeged, Hungary.

And although Carrington admits she's feeling the pressure of arriving in London as the reigning world champion, she refuses to shy away from backing it up on the biggest stage possible.

"If someone else is faster on the day, then so be it, but ultimately I'm looking for Olympic gold," Carrington said.

"All I can concentrate on is my race and I'll be doing everything I can to make it the best of my career. There's definitely pressure going into the Olympics as a world champion, but that's good, it's important.

"That pressure is a way of reminding myself it's all about what I can do on the day and doing everything I can to get the best performance out of myself."

Luckily for Carrington, she will be able to release some Olympic nerves early in London. The schedule has her in the K2 500m first, where she will compete beside Erin Taylor, well ahead of her priority individual sprint.

"The schedule works out quite easily with the K2 on the first two days and then the K1 200m on the last two days," she said. "It's nice that the K2 comes first, it won't be quite so scary getting out there with someone else. It's worked out well and should help get rid of a few nerves ahead of the K1.

"It's my first Olympic Games but I'm just trying to treat each day as it comes. This is a pinnacle event and it's a big thing, but I think it's important to embrace it."

While still a relative rookie in the K1, Carrington admits her meteoric rise in the class has come as something of a surprise to even herself.

But with kayaking legend Ian Ferguson behind her, Carrington has been able to glean invaluable insights well ahead of the final run-in to London.

"I think I have surprised myself over the last 18 months. Before last year I'd never really been given the opportunity to race the K1, and then suddenly at a World Cup there I was, suddenly," she said.

"It's been exciting and I feel very privileged to be doing what I'm doing. But I'm also fortunate to have people like Ferg and a lot of other experienced people around me too."

Ahead of the Games there are two World Cup events, and then she will base herself in Germany.

If Carrington can pull off her ambitious K1 target, which would coincide with her first-ever trip to London, she would become the first New Zealander to win gold on Olympic debut since rowing duo Georgina Earl and Caroline Meyer in Athens in 2004.

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Also confirmed for London yesterday were four other paddlers, with potential for the overall team to rise further still.

Olympic silver medallist from 2004 Ben Fouhy secured his place in the K1 1000m alongside the K2 1000m partnership of Steven Ferguson and Darryl Fitzgerald.

Taylor will team up with Carrington in the women's K2 500 and Teneale Hatton has two chances left at upcoming World Cup events to seal her place in the K1 500m.

Hatton needs to prove her worth as a world top-16 athlete – the uniform measure imposed by the New Zealand Olympic Committee across all sports for nominations to be converted into formal selection.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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