The New Zealand Olympic Committee has named three promising paddlers to the New Zealand team for the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
15 year old Finn Anderson from Tauranga Boys College will contest the men’s C1 events (1 person canoe).
He’ll be joined by 14 year old Kahlia Cullwick from Mt Maunganui College who’ll contest the women’s C1 events (1 person canoe).
Rounding out the team is 14 year old George Snook from Rotorua Lakes High School who’ll contest the men’s K1 events (1 person kayak). George is a member of New Zealand’s under 18 Canoe Slalom team and is currently in Munich, where he’s training ahead of the ICF Junior World Championships in Italy in July.
Above: George Snook competing
The paddlers secured their spots by competing at the Youth Olympic Games qualification event in Barcelona in April.
The athletes will race in both the slalom and sprint disciplines at the Youth Olympic Games.
All athletes have come through the Canoe Slalom NZ Development Squad and both George and Kahlia competed at the inaugural AIMS Games canoe slalom event in 2016, with George winning the Year 8 boys event.
Above: Kahlia Cullwick
Finn Anderson’s been a devoted paddler from a young age and is proud to be following in the footsteps of the Bay of Plenty’s Olympic slalom athletes Mike Dawson and Luuka Jones.
“It’s pretty good having a couple of awesome athletes like them to look up to. Luuka winning that silver medal at Rio was huge, it’s pretty cool to show we can do that as a southern hemisphere country.”
Above: Finn Anderson in action
Canoe Slalom Bay of Plenty coach Matt McKnight expects the New Zealanders to stack up well against the world’s best young paddlers.
“It’s pretty amazing for us to get three spots and these guys have a good chance over there. They work hard and train at least four hours a week for slalom then three hours for sprint and we’ll do another big training push ahead of Buenos Aires.”
Oliver Puchner has been selected as the non-travelling reserve for Finn Anderson in the Men’s C1 Events. Henry Hall has been selected as the non-travelling reserve for George Snook in the Men’s K1 Events.
The Youth Olympic Games will be contested from October 6-18th in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Age at Games: 16
High School: Tauranga Boys College.
Career highlight: 2nd placing in slalom at Youth Olympic Games qualifier in Barcelona.
How did you get into your sport: I got into slalom because my dad was a paddler and it’s massive at my school.
What do you love about the sport: The whitewater and the fun and the thrill of getting things right.
What inspires you: I just love the sport and everything about it!
Age at Games: 14
High School: Mt Maunganui College.
Career highlight: Youth Olympic Games qualifier in Barcelona.
How did you get into your sport: I tried it with a friend at intermediate school and Dad had done a bit of paddling years ago so he really helped me on my way as well.
What do you love about the sport: I love paddling and adventure and water splashing in my face. I also love the challenge and the thrill that you get from it.
What inspires you: There are amazing ladies and people out there who do this sport and I’d love to be as awesome as them.
Age at Games: 15
High School: Rotorua Lakes High School.
Career highlight: Making the New Zealand under 18 Canoe Slalom team at just 14 years old.
How did you get into your sport: I grew up surrounded by the sport, dad used to jam me between his legs when he went out paddling and I live by Kaituna river.
What do you love about the sport: All the good times with friends and family in training, after competing and just on the water in general is pretty awesome.
What inspires you: I want to be my best, push the sport and have fun. Big thanks to my family and friends for supporting me with everything