Lisa Carrington staked her claim to being New Zealand’s greatest Olympian when she sensationally won the women’s K1 500 today, her third gold medal of the Tokyo Games.
Carrington, 32, has now won six Olympic medals, five of them gold, and that takes her past with kayakers Ian Ferguson and Paul MacDonald, and equestrian star Sir Mark Todd, who won five Olympic medals each.
As is her way, Carrington got off to a blazing start and held a clear lead by the 50-metre mark. She increased it to a boat length, but then Hungarian Tamara Csipes began to threaten.
The vast amount of racing Carrington has done this week looked to be taking its toll and she had to dig very deep to get to the finish line without her pace slackening. In the end her time of 1min 51.21s gave her a 0.639s buffer over Csipes.
After crossing the line Carrington waved to her supporters on the bank and touched her chest, a gesture of relief as much as triumph.
Her feats in Tokyo have been astounding and unbelievably she still has the women’s K4 1000 to come tomorrow.
Carrington said after her race that she felt “amazing”.
“I set out on such a big task. I had so many people supporting and helping me, otherwise I never could have done this. My support team is amazing.”
She said she learnt from Rio in 2016, when she took the bronze medal in the K2 500.
“It’s one thing having the capability, but another to go out there and execute the race.
“It’s really scary and it hurts a lot. I hate it, but I love it.”
She said her strategy in the 500 was to empty her tank completely.
“Into a headwind the race seems even longer and it hurt out there.”
Earlier today Carrington, competing in the fourth and last semi-final, won handsomely in 1min 51.180s, giving her a 1.53s cushion over second-placed Australian Alyce Wood. Two paddlers from each semi-final went through to the final.
Carrington was the fastest of the semi-finalists.
In the first women’s K2 semi-final fellow New Zealander Caitlin Regal, was edged out of second place by Belgian Hermien Peters. Regal was second for most of the journey, but faded near the end and was overtaken by Peters, who beat her by 0.66s ahead, consigning Regal to the B final.
In the B final, Regal finished stronger and won narrowly from Sabrina Hering-Pradler of
Germany to give her 9th place overall.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games