Fresh from a golden haul, New Zealand’s top kayakers will get a significant increase in competition at the ICF World Cup canoe sprint round in Szeged, Hungary, this weekend.
The eight-strong women’s team came away with four gold medals from the first World Cup in Portugal last weekend but the number of paddlers and nations have more than doubled for the second event of the season.
Sprinter Aimee Fisher gets a chance to shine in the K1 200m for only the second time at this level, while Lisa Carrington returns to individual competition in the K1 500m, but otherwise the focus is again all on team boats for the New Zealand team.
In the K4 division - where the Kiwis have two teams - world and Olympic champions Hungary return to the fray, along with Rio silver medalists Germany and fourth-placed Ukraine.
Carrington, Fisher, Caitlin Ryan and Kayla Imrie - who won in Portugal - have all three of those top nationals in their heat, while Rebecca Cole, Kim Thompson, Briar McLeely and Britney Ford have drawn the slightly easier first heat.
After winning the K1 500m title in Portugal, Ryan will pair up with Carrington in the K2 500m this weekend, alongside Thompson and Cole, while McLeely and Imrie will race the K2 200m. Fisher finished ninth in the K1 200m in her World Cup debut in Germany last year but will face significant competition in the form of Olympic silver medalist Marta Walczykiewicz (Poland).
More than 800 athletes from 66 nations will compete in Szeged, with Canoe Racing New Zealand Chief Executive Mark Weatherall eager to see how the Kiwi team embraces the step up.
“Winning four golds in Portugal surpassed our expectations and was a great confidence booster, especially for the younger paddlers,” Weatherall said. “This weekend will give us a much better idea of where our various crews stack up internationally and how much work they’ll need to do before the world championships later this year.”
The three-day Szeged event, which starts on Friday night (NZ time) will be the final event of the World Cup season for the New Zealand team, who will return home next week.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games Kayla Imrie Caitlin Ryan Lisa Carrington Aimee Fisher Canoe/Kayak - Sprint