Ben Fouhy, Teear stake Olympic claim in K2
Ben Fouhy muddied the waters on Sydney's Olympic course today by presenting Canoe Racing New Zealand with a serious dilemma after his unexpected success in the final K2 1000 selection trial for London 2012.
The controversial Olympian's combination with Fred Teear upstaged the duo thought most likely to occupy New Zealand's K2 1000 berth in London - Steven Ferguson and Darryl Fitzgerald - in the last event of the Oceania championships in Penrith.
By finishing second in the final, won by Australians Ken Wallace and Murray Stewart, Fouhy and Teear strengthened their claims.
Ferguson and Fitzgerald were a distant seventh almost 12 seconds behind Fouhy and Teear, who were chased home by the third New Zealand combination of Troy Burbidge and Liam O'Loughlin.
CRNZ high performance director Grant Restall admitted the emergence of Fouhy and Teear - who only formed their combination late last year - had complicated matters.
"It's opened up a can of worms. Previously we had Steve and Darryl sitting pretty dominant and now Ben and Fred have started to come forward.
"They are a force to be reckoned with so we need to consider that. Their climb has been steeper."
This was the third trial following races on the Blue Lake in Rotorua and last month's national championships - the score between the pairs was one win apiece but more success for Fouhy and Teear does not resolve the issue because Ferguson and Fitzgerald are considered the more experienced combination.
The three-man selection panel of Steven Richards, John MacDonald and Terry Newlands have until June to submit their team to the New Zealand Olympic Committee for rubberstamping. CRNZ head coach Gordon Walker also has input in the decision making process.
Fouhy, the K1 1000 silver medallist at Athens eight years ago is assured of competing in his specialist event in London, but the Olympic dreams of Ferguson, Fitzgerald and Teear now rest with the selectors.
"We'll sit back and go through the stats, work through things and try and work out who we're going to nominate to the NZOC," Restall said.
There may be a fourth and final trial held either at Lake Karapiro or at the Polish World Cup meet in May.
However, it was preferable for the team to be confirmed before they head to Europe to complete their preparations for London.
Fouhy, who announced his retirement from the sport in January last year because of recurring funding issues and a lack of autonomy over his career, has been impressive since reconsidering.
Fouhy, 32, cruised to the K1 1000 national title and secured New Zealand's Olympic berth yesterday when winning his heat by 7 seconds.
Fouhy was fourth in the final - and then disqualified for a technical infringement - but neither setback has a bearing on his selection in the individual event.
Meanwhile, in the women's programme Lisa Carrington and Erin Taylor combined to win the K2 500 final as their preparations for London intensified.
Competing abroad for the first time since last August's world championships in Hungary, the duo clocked 1min 45.11 seconds to cross ahead of Australia's Naomi Flood and Lindsey Fogarty (1:45.70).
"We always want to race really well and it proves the training we've done over the last six months has been worthwhile," Carrington said.
Carrington, the K1 200 world champion, pipped Alana Nicholls in her specialist event though her Australian rival squared their ledger in the K1 500.
Teneale Hatton secured New Zealand Olympic qualification in the K1 500 by winning her heat but was no certainty to go to London.
Her selection for the Oceania champs was not significant because the field was weakened by the absence of Australians.
Hatton was only fifth at the New Zealand championships; Marianne Archer and Rachael Dodwell are among those eyeing the berth.