Lisa Carrington and Caitlin Regal struck the double for New Zealand in the Olympic canoeing today.

Paddling with power and control, they were never headed in the final of the women’s K2 500 and held off strong challenges from Poland and Hungary to win in 1min 35.785, which gave them a buffer of 0.968s on the second-placed Poles.

Coming only an hour after Carrington had so commandingly won the K1 200 final, the K2 gold made this one of the most special days in New Zealand’s Olympic history.

It was Carrington’s fourth Olympic gold medal and her fifth medal in all. She and Ian Ferguson have now won the most Olympic gold medals for New Zealand and she and Ferguson, Paul MacDonald and Mark Todd have won the most Olympic medals.

And Carrington, who seems the outstanding paddler of the entire Olympic regatta, still has two events remaining.

Carrington’s preparation for the K2 final was not exactly what is prescribed in most manuals – a semi-final of the K1 200, a semi-final of the K2 500, the final of the K1 200, the gold medal ceremony and then her K2 final…all within three hours.

All this is not to minimise the paddling of Regal. After all, it takes two to paddle a K2 boat. Regal, a 29-year-old Aucklander, is an experienced international paddler and was part of the New Zealand crew that finished fifth in the K4 500 in Rio in 2016.

Carrington and Regal showed they meant business in their K2 500 semi-final when they set an Olympic best time of 1min 36.724s.

The New Zealand pair were away like lightning and their lead was never threatened. They finished comfortably ahead of the second-placed Australians and marked themselves as the team to beat in the final – their winning time was more than a second faster than the Hungarians recorded in winning the other semi.

The other New Zealand team in the K2 500 semi-finals was Teneale Hatton and Alicia Hoskin, who found the pace in their race too fast and finished seventh, just over six seconds behind Hungary. In the B final, Hatton and Hoskin finished sixth.

Their main focus is on the K4 500 later in the week.

Afterwards Carrington said having been away from home for seven weeks and felt all the support and love coming from home had made this campaign difficult but rewarding.

“It’s been an amazing journey to this point,” she said. “It is hard to continue to win and stay on top of the podium. It’s all about not settling for winning, but pushing myself to be the best I can be. This felt special today.”

She said that because of the circumstances brought about by Covid, everyone had had to try to work out how best to cope. “We’ve been very lucky back in New Zealand. Our country has done an amazing job of keeping us safe. It’s made it a good environment to train in, but we’ve still had to figure out how to work around Covid and we’ve managed that because we have a great team around us.”

Carrington described winning the K2 500 as “the cherry on top”.

Regal said winning the gold medal was a special moment for her. “It’s my first Olympic medal and I did it with someone who has been working so hard alongside me. I’ll always remember this moment.”

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games
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