9 May 2024

New Zealand's male paddlers out to impress at World Cup regatta

6:26 am on 9 May 2024
Max Brown and Kurtis Imrie competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Max Brown and Kurtis Imrie competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Canoe Racing New Zealand will finalise their male paddlers for the Olympics in the next few weeks.

A team of six women was selected for Paris last month, but the national body held off selection for the men to give the squad enough time to prove themselves.

They get a chance to do that at the World Cup regatta in Hungary this weekend.

Four male athlete quota spots were sealed at the Oceania Championships earlier this year and canoe sport selectors have decided that will be made up of a K4 crew.

Over the last year, they have had a squad of eight which is now down to five. Four athletes will be nominated by the end of the month.

Canoe Racing NZ performance general manager Nathan Luce said they had made use of the extra time allotted to them to finalise their selection.

Part of the reason for that was because of a back injury suffered by Hamish Legarth in February. He is back in the boat and will race in the K4 in Hungary this weekend.

The other three are Max Brown, Curtis Imrie and Grant Clancy, while Zach Ferkins is the reserve.

While they were after a good World Cup result, they did not need to gain a certain result, Luce said.

"We're using it as an internal evaluation point, we can use the last two years of results and data and trials, but this definitely is a point where we are going to evaluate the four men that are racing."

Luce did not believe the late selection was an issue.

"We're confident because this is a group of athletes that work well together, they interchange and that is the system we've created where athletes are quite adaptable.

"So we're confident that whatever crew we put out that they'll be world class and will go into Paris ready to shock the world."

Vaires-sur-Marne canoe sprint course near Paris.

Vaires-sur-Marne canoe sprint course near Paris. Photo: AFP

Part of the criteria for selection for any New Zealand Olympic team is to be capable of between a top 8 or at minimum a top 16 result.

The men's K4 just missed Olympic selection at last year's World Championships.

"Even if they don't have a great race here, we still know that with Hamish coming back to full fitness we're still keeping our expectations measured," Luce told RNZ.

"We want the crew to be 100 percent tapered in August and not in May.

"Therefore, we're hoping for a good result, but at the same time we know the crew is getting back to full strength."

Meanwhile, the women's Olympic team will replicate its Olympic programme at the regatta this weekend, with Dame Lisa Carrington competing in the K1, K2 and K4, Alicia Hoskin in the K2 and K4, Tara Vaughan in the K4, Olivia Brett in the K4, Aimee Fisher in the K1 and K2, and Lucy Matehaere in the K2.

There are three para-athletes competing in Hungary, with Corbin Hart and Peter Cowan hoping to gain Olympic selection, while the already qualified Scott Martlew is also competing.

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