Six New Zealand canoe sprint athletes have booked tickets to Rio de Janeiro later this year, with five paddlers set to make their Olympic debut.
Multiple world champion and defending Olympic K1 200m champion Lisa Carrington heads the list, joined for the first time by a New Zealand women's K4 boat and by K1 1000m paddler Marty McDowell.
While McDowell is the sole male selected, the inclusion of Jaimee Lovett, Caitlin Ryan, Aimee Fisher and Kayla Imrie in the K4 more than doubles the number of New Zealand females competing at that level.
"We're delighted to see the investment in our female programme paying off and our athletes getting the chance to show what they're capable of at the highest level," Canoe Racing New Zealand chief executive Mark Weatherall said.
"New Zealand has a proud Olympic kayaking history and we're excited to see that continue."
New Zealand Olympic Committee Secretary General Kereyn Smith was on hand to congratulate the six paddlers at a formal selection announcement at Lake Pupuke on Auckland’s North Shore this afternoon.
“The three crews selected today have worked extremely hard for selection and the New Zealand Olympic Committee is thrilled to welcome Lisa, Marty, Jaimee, Caitlin, Aimee and Kayla to the team for Rio,” said Smith.
“Each of these athletes have proven themselves on the world stage in recent years and now, with selection confirmed, the athletes can focus on being in the best shape for the Olympic Games in August.”
Carrington has high hopes of becoming one of New Zealand's most successful Olympians, eyeing gold in both the K1 200m and K1 500m. She has been unbeaten in the shorter distance for the last five years at the top level, adding the K1 500m world championship crown for the first time in Milan last year. She overtook Paul MacDonald as New Zealand's most successful world championship athlete, with five gold medals, and joined MacDonald as the only Kiwi to win two golds at the same championship. The 26-year-old was also the first women in 16 years - and only third in history - to hold both the 200m and 500m titles at the same time.
The new K4 crew, which has only been together for less than 18 months, also made a mark in Milan, reaching the K4 500m final and earning a qualifying spot for Rio. It came just three months after winning a round of the World Cup in Portugal.
It's been 24 years since New Zealand last had an Olympic K4 boat, with Richard Boyle, Finn O'Connor, Stephen Richards, and Mark Scheib making the semifinals in Barcelona in 1992, after earlier men's K4 crews in 1984 and 1988. Of the 24 New Zealanders who have paddled flat-water kayaks at the Olympic games, only three - Erin Taylor, Carrington and Teneale Hatton - have been in the women's ranks.
McDowell will also make his Olympic debut, after qualifying through the Oceania championships last month. His best World Cup performance was also in Portugal last year, when he picked up bronze in the K1 500m.
Both Carrington and McDowell are coached by Gordon Walker, with Rene Olsen controlling the women's programme and the K4.
These six canoe sprint athletes bring the New Zealand Olympic Team to 49 confirmed athletes, joining fellow teammates from Taekwondo, Sailing, Rowing and Triathlon.